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Notable regional musicians, artists, and actors of German-Russian heritage

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Kat Moseley


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Janice Leppke - Artist, educator

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Marie Bickford - Watercolor

Marie Bickford- Artist
(Parents immigrated from Dinkel, Russia)

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Shannon Bickford - Persimmon on Blue -Watercolor

Shannon Bickford - Artist, writer, educator
(Grandparents immigrated from Dinkel, Russia)
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Stan Bitters

Stan Bitters - Sculptor
Grandparents immigrated from Lawre and Laub, Russia
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Jim Klein

Jim Klein -  Professional Photographer

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Kat Moseley

Kat Moseley - Artist
(nee Klein)


Benny Steinhauer Orchestra
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Benny Steinauer Ochestra

The Benny Steinhauer Orchestra performed locally for over 50 years.

Woody Laughnan, a long-time Fresno Bee columnist, was a contemporary of the Steinhauer's and was familiar with the music and the members of the orchestra. Mr. Laughnan published a tribute to the Steinhauer's under his by-line. The opening paragraphs of that homage follow:
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Time Cannot Still Steinhauer Sound


Age and Death have thinned the ranks, but Benny Steinhauer's Orchestra goes on as if forever.

For years and years and years, since World War I days, there were six men in the dance orchestra, five of them Steinhauer's—Ben, Bill, Albert, Alex, and Johnny-and a non-Steinhauer, Henry Mahler, at the piano.


The orchestra was the city's oldest and only black suit, white shirt, black socks, black shoes, and black bowtie unit. It played more than 1,000 weddings, thousands more lodge, church, and club affairs, weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties and Saturday night dances, dinner dances in halls long razed and forgotten in Fresno and the surrounding area.

In the early days, the Steinhauer's were mainly a German band, but that changed when they were called upon to play at Portuguese, Italian and Armenian weddings, anniversaries, and Jewish functions. Their music was an assortment of standards of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s-fox trots waltzed, polkas and swing. Over time they played whatever people wanted to hear, including country, rock, and pop songs.

The Steinhauer's were the sons of Volga German immigrants. The brothers were born in Canada, where they learned to play musical instruments when they were young. The family moved to Fresno in 1919 and settled in west Fresno.

Woody Laughnan

Steinhauer musical training began at a very young age. Bill Steinhauer played the tuba.
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Ben and Alex began their musical careers locally during World War I and over the years became the premier black-tie orchestra.

Alex became an accomplished banjo player and once had the opportunity to play with the international star of banjos, Eddie Peabody.

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Alex Steinhauer rehearsed with the Elks Club Band.

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Benny Steinhauer

Benny Steinhauer spent a lifetime entertaining thousands of people with his violin.  Fresno Bee writer, Karl M. Kidder, wrote the following in Kidder's "Personalities" column:

There just may be someone somewhere who has played the violin at more weddings and receptions that has Fresno's Bernhard (Benny) Steinhauer. But, Benny has his doubts.

He has been serenading happy couples with Oh, Promise Me, and I Love You truly for nearly half a century, ever since he started picking out tunes on an autochord as a boy in Canada.

Steinhauer got started musically in Saskatchewan. Times were difficult on the farm run by his father, Michael, so when the 11 children set up a clamor for a new-fangled phonograph, he decreed: "Make your own music."

Karl M. Kidder

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Actors, Hollywood...

From Russia to Rooshians Town to Hollywood:

    Katherina Hardt becomes Silent Film Star, Vivian Edwards

Vivian Foy, a silent film actress and a relative of Velma Der Vartanian appeared in movies with Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. Katherina Hardt was born in the village of Laub Russian in 1896 and came to America in 1907 with her mother, who was born in Kukkus, Russia. Katherina moved to Los Angeles as a teenager and became a silent film star under the name of Vivian Edwards. Vivian Edwards performed in movies with Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. She married Bryan Foy, a member of the vaudeville family known as the Seven Littles Foys.

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Vivian Edwards

Source:  J. Willis Sayre - Collection of Theatrical Photographs via Wikipedia

There is a family story that after she became a star, and possibly after her marriage to Foy, she returned to Fresno for a unique visit that, to this day, is puzzling to the family. Vivian Edwards (Katherina Hardt) came to Fresno in a chauffeured limousine dress. She gave presents to all of the family members. She told the family that they would never see her again when she departed! True to her word, the local family never saw or heard from her again.

Records of her acting career show that she was born in Los Angeles. For whatever reasons known only to Vivian (Katherina), she did not want the story of her family history known in Hollywood. Whether it was because of her acting career, her marriage, or something else, it is still a mystery to her family. What are your thoughts?


To view the silent movie THOSE LOVE PANGS, use the link below to watch the YouTube Video:


Those Love Pangs

Charlie Chaplin: 1914: Silent Film: Comedy

Those Love Pangs, also known as The Rival Mashers, is an American silent comedy film. It was released in 1914 and produced by Keystone Studios, starring Charlie Chaplin and Chester Conklin, with the participation of Cecile Arnold, Vivian Edwards, and Helen Carruthers. Directed by: Charlie Chaplin, Produced by: Mack Sennett, Starring: Charles Chaplin...

Use the link below to view the following information on Vivian Edwards on the University of North Florida, Volga German Institute webpage:


Edwards, Vivian

Profession: Actor/Actress

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Vivian Edwards

Source:  Source: FindAGrave

Biography:  Silent film star Vivian Edwards was born Katharina Hardt in Laub, Russia. She is recorded as Katherine Foy, his sister, in the obituary of Michael Hart, who died in Fresno, California, in 1938. Most Hollywood sources recorded her birth date as 10 September 1896, but it is not independently verified. The

passenger list and 1910 census calculate her birth year as 1894. Her birth location is often reported as Los Angeles. However, her obituary in Variety Magazine records her as a native of Russia, and both the 1930 & 1940 censuses (Los Angeles Co., California) record that she was born in Russia.

Katharina Hardt (age 13), brother Michael (age 27), and their mother Katharina (age 57) are recorded on the passenger manifest of the S.S. New York arrived on 1 June 1907 in New York City. The manifest records that they came from the Volga German colony of Laub and that siblings Katharina and Michael had been born in Laub while their mother had been born in Kukkus.

Katharina Hart [sic] is recorded on the 1910 census of Fresno as a 16-year-old servant in the household of William C. Harvey.

She became an American actress of the silent film era. The Motion Picture Studio Directory of 1919 records that she began her acting career in 1914 as an extra. Edwards acted in Charlie Chaplin's earliest films in 1914 & 1915. As one of the Goo Goo sisters in "The Property Man," was one of her most memorable roles. She is credited with 57 silent movies.

In 1926, she married Hollywood director Bryan Foy.

Kerman's Roy Hergenroeder becomes Hollywood's

Award-Winning Set Designer, Roy Christopher

Roy Hergenroeder was born December 27, 1935, in Fresno, California. Roy attended Fresno High School until the family moved to a farm in Kerman, where he graduated from Kerman High School before attending and graduating from Fresno State. He may have grown up in the country, but his heart and mind traveled elsewhere, according to this

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quote: "I grew up as a farm boy in Fresno, and an agricultural town plunked in the middle of California--thousands of miles mentally from Hollywood. I would watch the Academy Awards and it was such a magical event. I really wanted to be part of that world, like everyone does."


After serving as a designer for a Woodland Hills theater, he got his first start as an assistant art director on The Dean Martin Show in the 1960s. The story is that Martin, whose real name was  Dino Paul Crocetti, advised Roy to change his name. From that time forward, Roy Hergenroeder was known as Roy Christopher. Roy then worked for several more shows, including Chico and the Man and Welcome Back, Kotter.

The 1977 Grammys and the 1979 Oscars were his assignments to design for awards shows. Career credits also include The Carol Burnett Show, the Johnathon Winters Show, The Midnight Special, Growing Pains, My sister Sam, and specials featuring Barbra Streisand, Mary Tyler Moore, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

During his illustrious career, Roy Christopher earned 32 Emmy nominations, winning 18 and winning 8 Art Director Guild Arts from 11 nominations.

In 2017 Roy Christopher became the second production designer ever to be inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.


To read AN APPRECIATION BY DAVID HYDE PIERCE at Roy's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, please use the following link:

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