Guest Author - Amber Grey
The Academy Award, most often referred to as the Oscar, is the most coveted award in Hollywood and it has been since the first ceremony took place on (date). However, there has always been a Post-Oscar curse which is believed to affect the Oscar winner's career. If you believe in the curse, the first to be affected was two-time Oscar winner Luise Rainer.
German actress Luise Rainer was discovered by MGM Studios talent scout Phil Berg while she was on stage in her home country of Germany. After seeing her perform and reading the stellar reviews of her past performances, Louise was brought to MGM and immediately signed to a 3-year contract.
She made her American debut as "Leopolde Dur" in the romantic comedy "Escapade" (1935) opposite William Powell. The regal leading man was so impressed by Luise that he insisted the studio give her co-billing with him. When the film was released, both public and critics loved her, hailing her as "Hollywood's Next Sensation."
In her next picture, "The Great Ziegfeld" (1936) Luise would co-star with William Powell again. However, legendary producer Irving Thalberg did not want her to take the part at first. He thought it was a waste of her time and talents to portray a character who was not featured in the entire film but Luise portrayed "Anna Held" anyway. Her career choice was about to prove that only small parts are for small actors when Luise received her first Academy Award for Best Actress and won over Carole Lombard for "My Man Godfrey" (1936).
With Luise, lightning struck twice in her career and after her Oscar win, Thalberg cast the actress in "The Good Earth" (1937) based on Pearl Buck's classic novel of the same name. She won the "Best Actress" Oscar once again for portraying the poor Chinese farm wife "O-Lan." That year, she won over Greta Garbo for "Camille."
After winning her second Oscar, Luise knew there was a lot of pressure to succeed in her future roles. But no matter how hard she worked, the remainder of Luise's contract was filled by unsatisfied films. Even worse, the critics who once praised her, were now unapologetic for their harsh reviews.
Meanwhile, Luise was beginning to feel dissatisfied with Hollywood and the studio system. She started holding out for serious roles and a more deserved salary but the studios would not budge. In a 2009 interview, Luise confessed that MGM studio head Louis By Mayer once told her, 'We made you and we are going to destroy you.'
It was in 1938 that Luise abandoned Hollywood altogether. She was briefly considered for the role of "Scarlett O'Hara" for "Gone With The Wind" (1939) but the idea was scrapped. By 1942, Luise returned to the stage for a few roles. She had screen-tested for the lead role of "Maria" in "For Whom The Bell Tolls" (1943) but Ingrid Bergman was cast instead. She achieved a small part in the film "Hostages" (1943), relieved that an Academy Award was not expected of her.
In 2010, 100-year old Luise Rainer made an appearance at the first Turner Classic Movies Film Festival in Los Angeles, California to introduce the screening for "The Good Earth" (1937). The introduction also followed a Q&A session with the TCM's host Robert Osbourne which aired on Turner Classic Movies channel on her 101st birthday in 2011.