Do you know this Jew? She won 2 back-to-back Oscars

Do+you+know+this+Jew%3F+She+won+2+back-to-back+Oscars

Luise Rainer, was the first actor with back-to-back Oscars. She was born on January 12, 1910 in Dusseldorf, Germany, into a prosperous Jewish family.

According to her bio on IMDB.com, Rainier was discovered by the legendary theater director Max Reinhardt and became part of his company in Vienna, Austria. “I was supposed to be very gifted, and he heard about me. He wanted me to be part of his theater,” Rainer recounted in a 1997 interview.

She joined Reinhardt’s theatrical company in Vienna and spent years developing as an actress under his tutelage. As part of Reinhardt’s company, Rainer became a popular stage actress in Berlin and Vienna in the early 1930s.

After appearing in three German films, her career was derailed by Adolf Hitler’s takeover of Austria. Luckily she was spotted by a talent scout, who offered her a seven-year contract with the American studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The 25-year-old Rainer took the deal and emigrated to the United States.

ADVERTISEMENT
MERS Goodwill ad


According to the Jewish Woman’s Archive, within a year, she had played her most memorable roles opposite the biggest stars of the day: William Powell in The Great Ziegfeld (MGM, 1936) and Paul Muni in The Good Earth (MGM, 1937). Her performances earned raves and an unprecedented two successive Oscars. As part of the gallery of MGM luminaries, she also helped define the studio’s reputation as the “Tiffany” of motion picture companies in Depression-era America.

In the days when Hollywood studios owned stars, Rainer chafed against being “one of the horses of the Louis B. Mayer stable.” She eventually left Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), but not before getting the chance to tell off one of Hollywood’s most powerful men, well ahead of her time in challenging male hierarchy.

“Mr. Mayer, you did not make me,” Rainer recalled of her defiance to the executive during her 2010 interview. “You are an old man… By the time I am 40 you will be dead.” Rainer turned 47 before Mayer died. By the time she died at 104 in her home in London, she had outlived him by almost an additional sixty years.

Luise Rainer died on December 30, 2014.