Luise Rainer (born January 12, 1910 in either DÃ¼sseldorf, Germany or Vienna, Austria) is a two-time Academy Award-winning film actress. She was Jewish and escaped to the U.S. in the 1930s, but may have lost family members in the Holocaust; she became an American citizen in the 1940s, but has lived in the United Kingdom for many decades.
Rainer acted in Max Reinhardt's Vienna theater and appeared in several German language films before being discovered by an MGM talent scout in 1935. She moved to Hollywood and made her first American film appearance opposite William Powell in Escapade (1935). Her next two films won her consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actress, first for her portrayal of actress Anna Held in The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and next as a Chinese peasant in The Good Earth (1937). She became the first actress to win back-to-back Oscars, followed only by Katharine Hepburn many years later. Rainer would also describe winning those two Oscars as the "worst possible thing" to befall her career.
The infamous legend of an Oscar curse probably originated with Rainer because, following her two wins, her career virtually ended in Hollywood. She made a few films in 1938 but all of them were ill advised and not well received. She refused to be stereotyped or to knuckle under to the studio system and studio head Louis B. Mayer was unsympathetic to her demands for serious roles. Rainer's Oscars mattered little to Mayer; she was not a personal favorite of his on the order of Greer Garson or Jeanette MacDonald, and his studio was going full-throttle in the late 1930s. Disenchanted with Hollywood, where she later said it was impossible to have an intellectual conversation, she moved to New York City to live with her husband, playwright Clifford Odets whom she had married in 1937. Rainer and Odets divorced three years later after a stormy relationship, marked by Rainer having had at least one abortion at Odets' direction.
She made one more film appearance in Hostages in 1943, and abandoned Hollywood in 1944 after she married publisher Robert Knittel. They were married until his death in 1989 and apparently lived in the UK for most of their marriage. They had one daughter, Francesca Knittel.
Rainer made sporadic television and stage appearances in the following decades, appearing in a single episode of the World War II television series Combat in 1965, and took a dual role in an episode of The Love Boat in 1984. She later appeared in the film The Gambler (1997) in a small role, marking her film comeback at the age of 87. She made two appearances at the Academy Awards ceremonies (in 1998 and 2003) in special retropective tributes to past winners.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6300 Hollywood Blvd.