Louise Rainer had a promising start in Hollywood in the 1930s, but disagreements with Louis B. Mayer and her dissatisfaction with roles she was offered caused her to walk away from Hollywood, according to the L.A. Times. She passed away from pneumonia at the age of 104.
Her role in the 1936 film “The Great Ziegfeld, ” earned her the academy award, and when she won another Oscar as a Chinese peasant in Pearl Buck’s film adaption of “The Good Earth, ” she became the first actor to win two consecutive Oscars. However, Mayer didn’t like the fact that an attractive 20 year old actress played a Chinese peasant, and he had in her mind for roles she considered “fluffy.” Rainer tended to avoid Hollywood types, and instead befriended writers and intellectuals like Albert Einstein, Frank Lloyd Wright and Anais Nin. She also suffered a disastrous marriage to playwright Clifford Odets that ended in divorce in 1940.
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Her arguments with Louis B. Mayer over roles led him to tell her once, “We made you, and we are going to kill you.” She only made half a dozen movies, and returned to Hollywood in 1997 to perform in The Gambler. Mayer’s motto, “Give me a good looker and I’ll make her an actress, ” was something she felt was insulting to the acting profession.
Born in Germany to Jewish parents, Louise Rainer’s father was also domineering, and strongly disapproved of her decision to become an actress. She left home at 16 and performed with Max Reinhardt’s acting troupe.
After leaving Hollywood, Rainer’s career was nearly revived when Fellini asked her if she wanted to be in “La Dolce Vita, ” but a sex scene with Marcello Mastrianni caused her to turn down the role. “In the end I walked out, ” said Rainer. “I’m a walker outer.”