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


Actor (16)

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


Changing Stages 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)


The Gambler 1999 (Movie)

Grandmother (Actor)

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


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


The Great Waltz 1937 (Movie)

Poldi Vogelhuber (Actor)

The Good Earth 1936 (Movie)


The Great Ziegfeld 1935 (Movie)

Anna Held (Actor)

Dancer (Movie)


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)


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.


Robert Knittel

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

Francesca Knittel-Bowyer Actor

Born June 2, 1946; father, Robert Knittel

Clifford Odets Play as Source Material

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

Heinrich Rainer

Ran an import-export firm American citizen

Emilie Rainer




Celebrated her 100th birthday


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


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


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


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


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


Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Film debut in "Ja der Himmel uber Wien"


Joined Max Reinhardt's acting company


Left home to pursue acting career at age 16

Raised in Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Bonus Trivia


Rainer had two solo exhibitions of her paintings in London.


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


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."


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