Luise Rainer, one of the most admired stars of the 1930s and the winner of two Oscars in a row, passed away at 104. Known for some of the most stunning performances including the two movies that got her the Oscars, “The Great Ziegfeld” and “The Good Earth”, the legendary actress left her successful film career for intermittent stage work in addition to a life of domesticity and a career as a mountain climber. According to her daughter, Francesca Knittel Bowyer, the actress died from pneumonia.
Born in Austria, the actress gained fame and power in America
Born in Vienna on January 12, 1910, she began her tryst with acting in her teenage years under the tutelage of Max Reinhardt, the well known Austrian director. She appeared in more than a few German films but it was in America that she gained prominence. She became the first actress to win an Oscar two times in a row and took away the best actress distinction for the “The Great Ziegfeld” in 1936 and again in the 1937 film, “The Good Earth”. Other well known Hollywood actors and actresses who have won uninterrupted Oscars include Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Tom Hanks and Jason Robards.
Despite the fame, she had an unhappy Hollywood career and married life
Described by her daughter as “She was bigger than life and can charm the birds out of the trees,” the two awards marked the climax of her career, which went down equally fast. She considered her two Oscar trophies a curse that bestowed her with unbelievably high expectations. Following her win, she was part of five more MGM movies that did nothing for her career, and were (to her) a waste of her talents. By the mid 40s, her fame came to an end. Unhappy with her career, even her personal life was tinged with unhappiness as she went through a turbulent marriage to playwright, Clifford Odets, ultimately quitting movies forever.