Meet Anna Lehr

 Year of Ann Dvorak: Day 8

Anna Lehr and Will Rogers (center) in Laughing Bill Hyde (1918)

You may or may not know that Ann Dvorak was reared in show business. Her father, Edwin McKim was a stage actor and later a film director, but we’ll find out more about him on a later post. He wasn’t in Ann’s life during her formative years, so the true influence was her mother.

Ann and her mother, Anna Lehr in 1932.

Anna Lehr was born in New York to Czech immigrants in 1890 and was performing onstage in various revues by the time she was 15. Contrary to some reports, Lehr was her surname, not “Dvorak.” She performed in vaudeville for a number of years, and even brought a two-year-old Ann Dvorak on the road with her while touring the Orpheum circuit. She launched her film career in 1912 and worked solidly for almost a decade, garnering solid reviews, though never becoming a big star, not unlike her daughter. Her most notable movie was probably Laughing Bill Hyde, opposite Will Rogers. At one point young Ann was left behind in New York with Lehr relatives while her mother was busy making movies in Los Angeles. Dvorak would frequently go with a cousin to see Anna Lehr’s films on the big screen which made a huge impression on the young girl. Lehr  stopped acting in the 1920s, but the seed had been planted for her daughter to follow in her footsteps.

Lobby Card for A Child For Sale (1920)

Unfortunately, all but a couple of Anna Lehr’s films are know to exist, and the ones that have survived are not readily available. I have managed to scrape together a respectable collection of photos and promo pieces from her films, some of which are posted on this Anna Lehr gallery. I have also posted a short biography on this site, though you’ll have to wait until the book comes out to get the full story on Anna Lehr, and her complex relationship with her daughter, Ann Dvorak.


  1. DickP January 8, 2013

    Nice start on your “Year of Ann” project!

    One thought; if, at some point you get in a bind you might want to consider having a few of your more talented avid fans submit a possible day’s posting to give you a small break. Believe me, this is not a volunteer effort on my part as there is no way I could put together something that would be of interest to your “Dvorak Gang”. Just a thought in case a desperate situation arises. I’m sure there are people here that could pinch hit in an emergency…

    Meanwhile: any late breaking news on the next step from the Publisher? Also, outside of flying to where ever you’ll be doing book signings eventually, will you have a means where your loyal fans will be able to purchase a signed copy of the freshly printed work of art? Actually, this is a selfish question as I’ll be getting at least a dozen books to give to friends – which makes for a bulky luggage load on the return flight. Just something to think about — and of course, down the road there will need to be those annual Ann Dvorak cruises (similar to the TMC yearly cruise)… Mmmmh, It’s easy to see that you sure have a heavy load ahead!!

    All kidding aside, I, and many, many others, really appreciate all your efforts!!!!!

  2. admin January 8, 2013

    Thanks for the suggestion Dick. Any takers out there?

    I’m sure we can utilize our friends at USPS if I don’t do a signing in your neck of the woods. As for an Ann Dvorak Cruise, I’m afraid there would only be enough participants to fill a dinghy!

  3. DickP January 8, 2013

    Actually, I’m not really concerned about having a box of books. They’ll go just fine as checked luggage. We visit L.A. on occasion to see friends (along with my Wife’s shopping needs) or changing to an International flight at LAX. While there we always make it a point to enjoy Dim Sum in the downtown Chinatown area, which is not too far from the Central Library where you hold court daily I understand (from your bio).

    My larger concern was for your loyal fans that may live out there in the hinterlands (Buffalo Breath, MT; Alligator Alley, FL; San Bernardino,Ca – a little humor there). I’m sure that being able to obtain a signed copy from a soon to be famous author would be of interest to your fans as long as the premium for this service was within reason (one arm, or one leg, or ?). Personally, I plan on showing up for a signing with video camera in hand to record the event for posterity. Also it should be a great video for YouTube (err, ahh, can you do any magic tricks, dance crazily, fall on your face, etc – it would help the video to go viral you know). Getting recognition in the public can be quite valuable you know…

  4. admin January 8, 2013

    As an L.A. County resident, we do call San Bernardino the hinterlands (I know, such snobbery)! Can’t do any magic tricks, but I’m pretty sure I can fall on my face. Thanks for your continued support, though I think you overestimate my marketability!

  5. DickP January 9, 2013

    To the contrary, I think you UNDERestimate your marketability! Seriously!!!

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