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

Illustration for article titled "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.

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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]

DISCUSSION

ailanthus-altissima-old
Ailanthus-altissima

There is a rude little boy in the lab section that I TA that kept saying things yesterday like "You're pretty much dead when you're 30. That's just so old."

I would loooooove to have him meet Luise Rainer. She seems just so full of energy and vigor.