Tall, lean, austere-looking Austrian character actor, whose chiselled features appeared on screen in small parts from 1945. Friedrich was the younger brother of renowned Viennese stage and film actor and director Leopold von Ledebur, both descended from a distinguished aristocratic family (their forebears included several high-ranking luminaries among the clergy, as well as political and military leaders). As a cavalry officer in an Ulan (Light Cavalry) Regiment of the Austro-Hungarian Army, he saw action during the First World War. Friedrich was a superb rider, a skill which later stood him in good stead as a trainer of horses for the film industry. After the war, having gained an engineering diploma (which he rarely, if ever, put to use), he spent the next two decades travelling the world, working all manner of odd jobs from gold mining to deep sea diving, to riding and winning prize money at rodeos. Having finally settled down in the United States in 1939, he eventually anglicised his name to ‘Frederick’.
A close friendship with a fellow adventurer, the director John Huston, paved the way for more substantial character roles in Hollywood. The first and best of these was as the laconic cannibal Queeqeg, chief harpooneer on the ship “Pequod” in Huston’s Moby Dick (1956). This is unquestionably the role for which he is best remembered. Friedrich came to specialise in eccentric character roles, ranging from stoic Indian chiefs to Vikings, from German Field Marshals to imposing Pirate Captains and Spanish aristocrats. Latterly white-maned, he popped up in a wide variety of genres, from historical epics, to spy thrillers and European westerns, even as one of the monastic guardians of the devil in the “The Howling Man” episode of The Twilight Zone (1959).
The actor was first married to English actress, poet and noted wit Iris Tree. His second wife (from 1955) was the Countess Alice Hoyos, who was descended from a titled Spanish dynasty, latterly resident in Austria.