Luise Rainer, died Tuesday (December 30, 2014) at her home in London from pneumonia, said her only daughter, Francesca Knittel Bowyer.
“She was bigger than life and could charm the birds out of the trees. If you saw her, you’d never forget her.” stated her daughter.
She fought with her studio over control of her career, fled Hollywood for New York and suffered through a brief, unhappy marriage to the playwright Clifford Odets.
Lies Rainer, who became the first ever person to win back to back Oscars, described the double victory as the worst thing that could have happened to her.
“When I got two Oscars, they thought, that they could throw me into anything.” Lies Rainer had stated The Associated Press in a 1999 interview.
She was born on January 12, 1910 in Vienna, Austria, although some sources give her birthplace as Düsseldorf, Germany.
She began her acting career as a teenager under innovative Austrian director Max Reinhardt and appeared in several German films.
In the mid 1930’s she was discovered by a talent scout from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and was taken to Hollywood. Her first Hollywood film was the largely forgotten Escapade (1935), but the roles that followed made her a star.
Lies Rainer got herself her first Oscar, playing actress Anna Held, wife of impresario Florenz Ziegfeld, in The Great Ziegfeld.
Her next Oscar was for playing a virtuous Chinese peasant in the screen adaptation of Pearl S. Buck’s epic novel The Good Earth.
She featured in films like Toy Wife, The Great Waltz and Hostages. She spent most of her later life in England and made occasional film and television appearances, including an episode of The Love Boat in 1984.
One of her last film roles was in The Gambler, a 1998 adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoyevsky story, in which she appeared with Michael Gambon and Dominic West.
Four actors have matched Lies Rainer’s Oscar double in consecutive years: Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Jason Robards and Tom Hanks.
Luise Rainer, a star of cinema's golden era but then walked away from a glittering Hollywood career, is no more. She was hundred and four. Luise Ra...2.5