"Forgotten" Oscar-Winner On The Awards: "I Find It Very Boring"


An interview with a “forgotten golden girl of the Oscars” is supposed to show us that Sic Transit Gloria. But she’s so awesome, we kind of want to grow up to be her.

First of all, I resent the implication that 99-year-old actress Luise Rainer, who won successive Oscars for 1936’s The Great Ziegfeld and the following year’s The Good Earth, is “forgotten”: the German-born actress, who lives in London, is known and respected by anyone who follows cinema. And it’s not like she’s pining to be at the Academy Awards: “All that ballyhoo… all these long speeches, thanking the grandparents and the great-grandparents… No, I find it very boring.”

Rainer’s decision to leave Hollywood was completely her own; she basically told Louis B. Mayer to take a hike.

Mayer said, ‘I hear that you want to leave’, and I said, ‘yes’ ,and he said, ‘well, we made you and we are also going to kill you’. And I said, ‘ Mr Mayer, you didn’t make me, God made me. And I want to tell you something: You are an old man and I am a young woman – you are dead when I am still full of life and can do whatever I want. He was very upset. I walked out. Finished.”

And it’s not as though her life was exactly barren after she left movies. Her friendships included Einstein, Gershwin, Frank Lloyd Wright, Jean Renoir and Anaïs Nin; during World War II she was given a commission from Eleanor Roosevelt to gather intel on “troop morale,” sharing a military transport with Martha Gellhorn. Bertolt Brecht wrote The Caucasian Chalk Circle as a vehicle for Rainer (although she told him to sod off too when he gave her attitude.) Basically, making films and winning Oscars seems to have been just one chapter in a life full of adventures, and by no means the most important. The notion that someone’s life is over after Hollywood, or that they’re “forgotten” because they don’t care to center a life around Holywood is put to play in a very refreshing fashion by this profile, which ought to be compulsory reading for anyone nominated on Sunday.

Says Rainer now,

“Everybody says, ‘you had such a wonderful life’. Well, possibly it was, but I don’t feel that I had such a specially wonderful life. I was lucky enough to meet people who were special, and that was the wonderful thing that happened in my life.”

Forgotten Golden Girl Of The Oscars [[Independent]

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