Luise Rainer

Actor, Artist, Writer
Like many compatriots in the pre-war central European arts community, Luise Rainer escaped the fascist clouds gathering over Europe to become one of the leading lights of Hollywood's German expatriate community, and the ... Read more »
Born: 01/12/1910 in Düsseldorf, , DE

Filmography

Actor (16)

Greta Garbo: A Lone Star 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)

Actor

Changing Stages 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

The Gambler 1999 (Movie)

Grandmother (Actor)

The 70th Annual Academy Awards 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)

Actor

MGM: When the Lion Roars 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

The Great Waltz 1937 (Movie)

Poldi Vogelhuber (Actor)

The Good Earth 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Great Ziegfeld 1935 (Movie)

Anna Held (Actor)

Dancer (Movie)

(Actor)

Dramatic School (Movie)

Louise (Actor)

Escapade (Movie)

Leopoldine (Actor)

The Big City (Movie)

Anna Benton (Actor)

The Emperor's Candlesticks (Movie)

Countess Olga Mironova (Actor)

The Toy Wife (Movie)

Gilberta Brigard (Actor)

Biography

Like many compatriots in the pre-war central European arts community, Luise Rainer escaped the fascist clouds gathering over Europe to become one of the leading lights of Hollywood's German expatriate community, and the first actor of any origin to win two Academy Awards back-to-back. An up-and-coming star in Germany upon the Nazi party's rise to power in 1933, she emigrated soon after, signing on with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and making her Hollywood debut in "Escapade" (1936). She soon had landed her first Oscar for her performance in "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936) and won it again the following year for her role in "The Good Earth" (1937). She made nearly as much buzz challenging the reign of the studio moguls, clashing with boss Louie B. Mayer until he made an example of her. Though Rainer's decline would be cavalierly chalked up to an "Oscar curse," Mayer - and by some estimates the actor's own Old School expressionistic acting style - subsequently denied her choice parts and prestige projects, prompting her to quit Hollywood after only seven years in the movie business. She would try her hand at the stage, including some star turns on Broadway, but would mostly be seen thereafter in odd TV projects in the U.S. and U.K. and, much later, in the European film "The Gambler" (1997). A classic thespian import of Old World style, Rainer's legacy would necessarily carry a cautionary example of how the bygone studio system would slap down even one of its most luminous stars. She died in London on December 30, 2014, at the remarkable age of 104.

Relationships

Robert Knittel

Husband
Married July 12, 1945 until his death on June 15, 1989

Francesca Knittel-Bowyer Actor

Daughter
Born June 2, 1946; father, Robert Knittel

Clifford Odets Play as Source Material

Husband
Married Jan. 8, 1937 Separated in 1939 Divorced May 14, 1940

Heinrich Rainer

Father
Ran an import-export firm American citizen

Emilie Rainer

Mother

Milestones

2010

Celebrated her 100th birthday

1997

Returned to features with an extended cameo in Karoly Makk's "The Gambler," starring Michael Gambon as Fyodor Dostoyevsky

1992

Turned up as perhaps the best witness in TNT's "MGM: When the Lion Roars"

1984

Guest starred on the long-running primetime series "The Love Boat" (ABC)

1983

Made occasional stage appearances during her "retirement" from film acting, including a solo performance of Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem "Enoch Arden" at UCLA's Schoenberg Hall in Los Angeles, CA

1965

Coaxed out of a 20-year retirement to appear on "Combat!" (ABC)

1960

Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

1954

Once again appeared on a televised play, the "Torment" episode of "Suspense" (CBS)

1951

Appeared as a performer on the "Woman Overboard" production of "Faith Baldwin's Theater of Romance" (ABC)

1942

Made last film for 54 years, "Hostages" (Paramount)

1941

Starred on Broadway in revival of "A Kiss for Cinderella"

1938

Left MGM after a series of box office and critical flops; retired from the film industry

1937

Won second Oscar as O-Lan in "The Good Earth"

1936

Won first Academy Award for playing Anna Held in "The Great Ziegfeld"; became the first actress to win an Oscar for portraying a real-life person

1935

Made U.S. film debut in "Escapade," the first of three films made with William Powell; took over part abandoned by Myrna Loy

1930

Film debut in "Ja der Himmel uber Wien"

1928

Joined Max Reinhardt's acting company

1926

Left home to pursue acting career at age 16

Raised in Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Bonus Trivia

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Rainer had two solo exhibitions of her paintings in London.

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She became a U.S. citizen in the 1940s.

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Rainer reportedly turned down an offer from Federico Fellini to appear in "La Dolce Vita" (1960) because she refused to go to bed on-screen with Marcello Mastroianni. She failed to land the role of Marie Curie (Greer Garson landed the part) and lost the female lead in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (1943) to Ingrid Bergman and, after moving to NYC and doing some theater there, rejected Tennessee Williams' invitation to appear in "The Glass Menagerie."

.

"Hollywood? I felt very alone in Hollywood. I couldn't wait to get out. I hated the films they asked me to make. They put me on a pedestal in Hollywood – and I didn't like being put on a pedestal." – Rainer to The Los Angeles Times, Oct. 26, 1997

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"I'm proud of one thing. I'm proud of having emerged unscathed without liquor or dope after 50 years of mostly not doing my work. I'm healthy and I kept healthy. When I see the dissipation of most actresses who don't work any more, I feel very lucky." – Rainer to The Los Angeles Times, Oct. 26, 1997

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About receiving an invitation to a screening for "The Gambler" (1997) and seeing her name at the bottom of the cast list in smaller print than the others: "I'm furious. I've been living in the background, and that's been fine because that's my life; I'm a little fly like everybody else. But I still have a name. I'm supposed to be a very good actress. And now when I do something – and for charity money – and I give interviews and help them a great deal...I find this invitation an insult." – Rainer in The London Times, Nov. 6, 1997

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