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December 30, 2014

LUISE RAINER GONE AT 104

Ms. Rainer won her second Academy Award for her role as O-Lan in the MGM film, 'The Good Earth,' in 1937. Here she's posed with her co-star, Paul Muni. Both were born Austrian Jews, but convincingly portrayed Eastern characters in this classic movie.
Ms. Rainer won her second Academy Award for her role as O-Lan in the MGM film, 'The Good Earth,' in 1937. Here she's posed with her co-star, Paul Muni. Both were born Austrian Jews, but convincingly portrayed Eastern characters in this classic movie.

Ms. Rainer won her second Academy Award for her role as O-Lan in the MGM film, ‘The Good Earth,’ in 1937. Here she’s posed with her co-star, Paul Muni. Both were born Austrian Jews, but convincingly portrayed Eastern characters in this classic movie.

 

Today we lost one of the last links to 1930’s Hollywood. Actress Luise Rainer passed away at the incredible age of 104 in London. She was only 13 days shy of reaching 105.

She began making films for the legendary Max Reinhart in Austria as a teen-ager. She was discovered by MGM talent scouts and brought to America as a threat to balky Greta Garbo. She was an instant hit and won successive Academy Awards for her small role in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and the following year for her meaty performance as the Oriental peasant woman, O-Lan, in The Good Earth (1937).

After this feat there was no where for Ms.Rainer to go but down. She was persuaded to make the wonky drama Dramatic School (1938). This pretentious potboiler supposedly chronicled the exploits of a a real Parisian acting school. Ms. Rainer portrayed an ardent student by day and worker in a gas-meter assembly plant by night.

 

After leaving glamorous MGM, Rainer made a tepid wartime film for Paramount. This still is from the dreary 1943 'Hostages.' She's with actor Arturo de Cordoba. (c) Paramount Pictures

After leaving glamorous MGM, Rainer made a tepid wartime film for Paramount. This still is from the dreary 1943 ‘Hostages.’ She’s with actor Arturo de Cordoba. (c) Paramount Pictures

 

Her tenure at MGM was short. The headstrong actress told the mighty L.B. Mayer to ‘shove it,’ and she was history. Rainer made a dreary wartime drama for Paramount and then she was through making films.

She left Hollywood for Europe,performing in the theater or occassional movie. She even appeared in a segment of the cheesy Love Boat in 1984.

I never had the pleasure of meeting her in person. My friend, actress Ann Rutherford, who co-starred with Rainer in Dramatic School, found her likeable, but aloof from the rest of the newcomers in this film like Lana Turner, Paulette Goddard and Virginia Grey.

She was truly a legend. We were so lucky to have her with us for such a long time.

 

RANIER 2

 

 

 

 

 






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