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Janet Gaynor

Janet Gaynor

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A Star Is Born (1937/Alpha)... The astounding, whirlwind rise of Esther Blodgett (Janet Gaynor), a farm girl... more info $6.98was $6.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Laura Augusta Gainor Died: September 14, 1984
Born: October 6, 1906 Cause of Death: pneumonia
Birth Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: actor, usher, painter, bookkeeper

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A petite, wholesome screen star, Janet Gaynor hit it big just as silent films were coming to an end and continued as one of the screen's most popular stars of the 1930s. Gaynor got her start in films through her sister, a secretary for Hal Roach. In 1925-26, she appeared in a number of shorts (including several Glenn Tryon Westerns) and as an extra in features. Her first break was a supporting role in "The Johnstown Flood" (1926), which began her long association with Fox. Gaynor appeared in such films as "The Midnight Kiss" and "The Return of Peter Grimm" (both 1926), before becoming a full-fledged star as a street urchin in "Seventh Heaven" and a threatened farm wife in "Sunrise" (both 1927). She won the Best Actress award at the first Oscar ceremony, on May 16, 1929, for her combined work on those films and "Street Angel" (1928). She finished out the silent era with "Four Devils", "Christina" and "Lucky Star" (all 1929). When talking films became popular, Gaynor rode the crest with the musical "Sunny Side Up" (1929). With her round, girlish face and cartoon-character voice, Gaynor remained one of Hollywood's biggest stars of the early Depression years, placing near the top of an annual exhibitors'...

A petite, wholesome screen star, Janet Gaynor hit it big just as silent films were coming to an end and continued as one of the screen's most popular stars of the 1930s. Gaynor got her start in films through her sister, a secretary for Hal Roach. In 1925-26, she appeared in a number of shorts (including several Glenn Tryon Westerns) and as an extra in features. Her first break was a supporting role in "The Johnstown Flood" (1926), which began her long association with Fox.

Gaynor appeared in such films as "The Midnight Kiss" and "The Return of Peter Grimm" (both 1926), before becoming a full-fledged star as a street urchin in "Seventh Heaven" and a threatened farm wife in "Sunrise" (both 1927). She won the Best Actress award at the first Oscar ceremony, on May 16, 1929, for her combined work on those films and "Street Angel" (1928). She finished out the silent era with "Four Devils", "Christina" and "Lucky Star" (all 1929).

When talking films became popular, Gaynor rode the crest with the musical "Sunny Side Up" (1929). With her round, girlish face and cartoon-character voice, Gaynor remained one of Hollywood's biggest stars of the early Depression years, placing near the top of an annual exhibitors' poll of top ten box-office stars for several years in a row until 1935. Gaynor made an especially popular romantic team with the similarly gentle-mannered Charles Farrell in a dozen films, including the delightful musical "Sunny Side Up", the improbable but magically romantic "Lucky Star" (both 1929), the unusual Gershwin tunefest "Delicious" (1931), and lesser but enjoyable films like "Tess of the Storm Country" (1932) and "Change of Heart" (1934).

Gaynor also did well in vehicles without Farrell, including "State Fair" (1933) and the unjustly neglected "One More Spring" (1935). Perhaps Gaynor's best-remembered starring vehicle is the first screen version of "A Star Is Born" (1937), in which she teamed with Fredric March in the classic story of two married film stars, one on the way up and the other on the way down. She retired from the screen after making the highly enjoyable "The Young in Heart" (1938) but returned to films once more to play the mother in "Bernardine" (1957). Gaynor's second husband (1939-59) was famed MGM costume designer Gilbert Adrian. In 1982, she and her longtime close friend Mary Martin were in an auto accident in San Francisco; Martin's manager was killed and Gaynor never fully recovered from her injuries. She died two years later.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Big Show (1957)
2.
 Bernardine (1957) Mrs. Wilson
3.
 The Young in Heart (1938) George-Anne
4.
 Three Loves Has Nancy (1938) Nancy Briggs
5.
 A Star Is Born (1937) Esther Victoria Blodgett, later known as Vicki Lester
6.
 Ladies in Love (1936) Martha Karenye
7.
 Small Town Girl (1936) Kay Brannan
8.
 The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935) Molly Larkins
9.
 One More Spring (1935) Elizabeth [Cheney]
10.
 Servants' Entrance (1934) Hedda Nilsson
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in Pennsylvania and Maryland
:
After parents' divorce, moved to Chicago with mother and older sister
1922:
When mother remarried, relocated to San Francisco
1924:
Screen debut as an extra in "All Wet"
1926:
Began screen acting career; appeared in such films as "The Midnight Kiss", "The Blue Eagle", "The Shamrock Handicap" and "The Johnstown Flood", often paired with Pee Wee Holmes and Ben Corbett or Edmund Cobb
1927:
First film with Charles Farrell, "Seventh Heaven"
1934:
Last film with Farrell, "Change of Heart"
1938:
Last film for nearly two decades, "The Young in Heart"
:
Acted on TV in such anthology drama shows as "Lux Video Theater" and "Chrysler Medallion Theater"; also filmed a pilot in the later 50s for "The Janet Gaynor Show"
1957:
One-shot return to films in "Bernardine"
1976:
Exhibited paintings in New York
1982:
Severely injured in a car accident; broke 11 ribs, her pelvis and collarbone; reportedly never fully recovered
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Education

Polytechnic High School: San Francisco , California - 1923
Hollywood Secretarial School: Los Angeles , California - 1923

Notes

As a child, she was known to her family as Lolly.

Gaynor appeared on the annual motion picture exhibitors' poll of top ten boxoffice stars a number of times after its formation. She made one such list in 1931, placed second on the "Motion Picture Annual"'s list in 1932 and third in both 1933 and 1934.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Lydell Peck. Attorney. Married in 1932; divorced in 1934.
husband:
Adrian. Costume designer. Married from 1939 until his death in 1959.
husband:
Paul Gregory. Producer. Married from 1964 until her death.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Frank Gainor. Paperhanger, painter. Divorced Gaynor's mother in 1914; was an amateur singer.
mother:
Laura Buhl. Divorced from Gainor's father in 1914; remarried in 1922.
step-father:
Harry C Jones. Electrician. Married Gaynor's mother in 1922.
sister:
Helen Gainor. Secretary in film studio. Born in 1902.
son:
Robin Adrian. Born on July 7, 1940.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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