Janet Gaynor


Actor
Janet Gaynor

About

Also Known As
Laura Augusta Gainor
Birth Place
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Born
October 06, 1906
Died
September 14, 1984
Cause of Death
Pneumonia

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 supp...

Photos & Videos

Sunrise - Movie Posters
A Star is Born (1937) - Lobby Card
Sunnyside Up - Lobby Card

Family & Companions

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

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.

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' 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.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Big Show (1957)
Bernardine (1957)
Mrs. Wilson
The Young in Heart (1938)
George-Anne
Three Loves Has Nancy (1938)
Nancy Briggs
A Star Is Born (1937)
Esther Victoria Blodgett, later known as Vicki Lester
Ladies in Love (1936)
Martha Karenye
Small Town Girl (1936)
Kay Brannan
The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935)
Molly Larkins
One More Spring (1935)
Elizabeth [Cheney]
Change of Heart (1934)
Catherine Furness
Servants' Entrance (1934)
Hedda Nilsson
Carolina (1934)
Joanna [Tate]
La ciudad de cartón (1934)
Herself
Adorable (1933)
Princess Marie "Mitzi" Christine
State Fair (1933)
Margy Frake
Paddy the Next Best Thing (1933)
Paddy [Adair]
Tess of the Storm Country (1932)
Tess Howland
The First Year (1932)
Grace Livingston
Merely Mary Ann (1931)
Mary Ann
The Man Who Came Back (1931)
Angie
Delicious (1931)
Heather Gordon
Daddy Long Legs (1931)
Judy Abbott
Happy Days (1930)
High Society Blues (1930)
Eleanor Divine
Four Devils (1929)
Marion
Lucky Star (1929)
Mary Tucker
Sunnyside Up (1929)
Molly Carr
Christina (1929)
Christina
Street Angel (1928)
Angela
2 Girls Wanted (1927)
Marianna Miller
7th Heaven (1927)
Diane
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
The wife
The Midnight Kiss (1926)
Mildred Hastings
The Blue Eagle (1926)
Rose Cooper
The Shamrock Handicap (1926)
Sheila Gaffney
The Johnstown Flood (1926)
Ann Burger
The Return of Peter Grimm (1926)
Catherine

Cast (Special)

Hollywood: The Selznick Years (1961)
Hedda Hopper's Hollywood (1960)
Guest

Cast (Short)

Forty-Five Minutes From Hollywood (1926)

Misc. Crew (Short)

Janet Gaynor (1962)
Archival Footage

Life Events

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"

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

Photo Collections

Sunrise - Movie Posters
Here are a few different styles of movie poster for Sunrise (1927 - aka Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans), directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Janet Gaynor.
A Star is Born (1937) - Lobby Card
Here is a lobby card from A Star is Born (1937), starring Fredric March and Janet Gaynor. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Sunnyside Up - Lobby Card
Here is a Lobby Card from Sunnyside Up (1929), starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Sunrise (1927) - Midsummer Peasant Dance Country couple George O'Brien ("The Man") and Janet Gaynor ("The Wife") excel in a dance at a big city carnival in F.W. Murnau's acclaimed silent film Sunrise, 1927.
Sunrise (1927) - Make The Piggy Roll Janet Gaynor (as "The Wife") and George O'Brien (as "The Man") at a carnival in one of many extraordinary scenes from F.W. Murnau's landmark silent film Sunrise, 1927.
Sunrise (1927) - Wilt Thou Love Her? Overcome with emotion at a wedding they've attended by chance, George O'Brien ("The Man") and Janet Gaynor ("The Wife") reconcile in a memorable sequence from F.W. Murnau's Sunrise, 1927.
Sunrise (1927) - Manicure? Janet Gaynor (as "The Wife") is well-pleased as George O'Brien (as "The Man") declines a manicure and defends her honor in a big-city salon in F.W. Murnau's silent Sunrise, 1927.
Street Angel (1928) - A Vagabond Painter Circus proprietor Mascetto (Henry Armetta) hurries perfomer Angela (Janet Gaynor) to help hold his audience, tempted away by painter Gino (Charles Farrell), in Frank Borzage's Street Angel, 1928.
Street Angel (1928) - Salute The Brave Police! Escaped from jail, Angela (Janet Gaynor) returns to her Naples home to find her mother deceased, then evades the cops with help from street performer Mascetto (Henry Armetta), in Frank Borzage's Street Angel, 1928.
Star Is Born, A (1937) - Stop Mooning About Hollywood Producer David Selznick is credited with the framing device, introducing Esther (Janet Gaynor) and brother (A.W. Sweatt) telling father, aunt and granny (J.C. Nugent, Clara Blandick, May Robson) about a movie with Norman Maine (Fredric March, who will figure later), in A Star Is Born, 1937.
Star Is Born, A (1937) - You Know What Your Chances Are Looks to be the real office of the real Central Casting in Burbank as Esther (Janet Gaynor), in town for about a month, gets tough love from Peggy Wood, then her landlord (Edgar Kennedy) and meets new fellow tenant Danny (Andy Devine), early in David Selznick's A Star Is Born, 1937.
Star Is Born, A (1937) - Pronounced Vicki Vicki Mentor Norman (Fredric March) supports Esther (Janet Gaynor) in the screen test he arranged, then producer Oliver (Adolphe Menjou) signs her, and press agent Libby (Lionel Stander) discovers a problem, William A. Wellman directing David Selznick's original A Star Is Born, 1937.
Street Angel (1928) - Si, Si, Mama! Angela (Janet Gaynor), lacking money to buy medicine for her dying mother, has an idea and ventures out into her Naples neighborhood, early in Frank Borzage's Street Angel, 1928.
Farmer Takes A Wife, The (1935) - Who Is That Lady? Notable as Henry Fonda’s first scene in his first movie, a new arrival in 1853 Rome, NY, after we meet Janet Gaynor as Molly, Charles Bickford as canal-boat captain Jotham, with Jane Withers, Margaret Hamilton, John Qualen, Andy Devine, Slim Summerville among the locals, in The Farmer Takes A Wife, 1935.
Farmer Takes A Wife, The (1935) - I Could've Said A Buffalo Female Tied up overnight in foggy Rochester, Erie Canal boat cook Molly (Janet Gaynor) visits with smitten Dan (Henry Fonda), aspiring farmer and employee on another boat, when her captain Klore (Charles Bickford), a renowned drinker, appears, having observed the lottery drawing, in The Farmer Takes A Wife, 1935.

Trailer

Family

Frank Gainor
Father
Paperhanger, painter. Divorced Gaynor's mother in 1914; was an amateur singer.
Laura Buhl
Mother
Divorced from Gainor's father in 1914; remarried in 1922.
Harry C Jones
Step-Father
Electrician. Married Gaynor's mother in 1922.
Helen Gainor
Sister
Secretary in film studio. Born in 1902.
Robin Adrian
Son
Born on July 7, 1940.

Companions

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

Bibliography

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.