skip navigation
Luise Rainer

Luise Rainer

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (3)

Recent DVDs

 
 

The Good Earth DVD First came marriage, an arranged union of peasant farmer Wang Lung (Paul Muni)... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

The Great Ziegfeld DVD Flo Ziegfeld's midway attraction isn't drawing flies. "How's business, Ziggy?" a... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Died: December 30, 2014
Born: January 12, 1910 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Düsseldorf, , DE Profession: actor, artist, writer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL 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...

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.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

5.
 Gambler, The (1999) Grandmother
7.
 Hostages (1943) Milada
8.
 Dramatic School (1938) Louise [Mauban]
9.
 The Great Waltz (1938) Poldi Vogelhuber
10.
 The Toy Wife (1938) Gilberte Brigard, Frou Frou
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Germany, Switzerland and Austria
1926:
Left home to pursue acting career at age 16
1928:
Joined Max Reinhardt's acting company
1930:
Film debut in "Ja der Himmel uber Wien"
1935:
Made U.S. film debut in "Escapade," the first of three films made with William Powell; took over part abandoned by Myrna Loy
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
1937:
Won second Oscar as O-Lan in "The Good Earth"
1938:
Left MGM after a series of box office and critical flops; retired from the film industry
1942:
Starred on Broadway in revival of "A Kiss for Cinderella"
1943:
Made last film for 54 years, "Hostages" (Paramount)
1951:
Appeared as a performer on the "Woman Overboard" production of "Faith Baldwin's Theater of Romance" (ABC)
1954:
Once again appeared on a televised play, the "Torment" episode of "Suspense" (CBS)
1960:
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
1965:
Coaxed out of a 20-year retirement to appear on "Combat!" (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
1984:
Guest starred on the long-running primetime series "The Love Boat" (ABC)
1992:
Turned up as perhaps the best witness in TNT's "MGM: When the Lion Roars"
1997:
Returned to features with an extended cameo in Karoly Makk's "The Gambler," starring Michael Gambon as Fyodor Dostoyevsky
2010:
Celebrated her 100th birthday
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Rainer has had two solo exhibitions of her paintings in London.

Reportedly, she 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 got 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 pedastal in Hollywood--and I didn't like being put on a pedestel." --Luise Rainer to LOS ANGELES TIMES, October, 26, 1997

"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." --Luise Rainer in LOS ANGELES TIMES, October 26, 1997

About receiving an invitation to a sceening for "The Gambler" 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, November 6, 1997

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Clifford Odets. Writer, director. Married January 8, 1937; separated in 1939; divorced May 14, 1940.
husband:
Robert Knittel. Publisher. Second husband; married in 1945 until his death in 1989.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Henry Rainer. Businessman. Ran an import-export firm; American citizen.
mother:
Emily Rainer.
daughter:
Francesca Knittel Bowyer. Born c. 1947.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute