Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Luise Rainer, 1910-2014

Luise Rainer in one of her Oscar-winning roles as O-Lan in The Good Earth (1937)

Two-time Oscar-winning actress Luise Rainer has died two weeks shy of her 105th birthday. Rainer will probably be best remembered for playing O-Lan opposite Paul Muni's Wang Lung in the film adaptation of Pearl Buck's novel The Good Earth. However, that was Rainer's second Oscar, having won the previous year for The Great Ziegfeld. Rainer left Hollywood at the end of the 1930s and lived in London for many years.

Rainer returned at the age of 100 for the first TCM Classic Film Festival (well, she'd been in Hollywood a bunch of times since the 1930s) and had a memorable scene that shows up on TCM now and then. Robert Osborne was going to sit down and do an interview with her, but in the bustle of the transatlantic flight, she lost her hearing aids, leaving her profoundly deaf and unable to hear Osborne's questions. Somebody in the audience got the brilliant idea of sending up a pen and notepad, on which Osborne wrote The Good Earth and Rainer replies, in her wonderful low voice, "Oh, you want to know about The Good Earth!"

TCM already had a morning and afternoon of Rainer's movies planeed for Monday, January 12, since that would have been Rainer's 105th birthday. I'd presume that either they'll have Robert Osborne or Ben Mankiewicz do some introductions for those movies, or they'll add prime time, probbaly Monday night, and do a 24-hour tribute to Rainer. I don't think anything has been officially announced, however.

1 comment:

Judy said...

Nice tribute to Rainer, Ted - I wonder if any of her films will be shown in tribute in the UK. I saw 'The Great Ziegfeld' not so long ago, and was impressed by her performance.