The Truth About Luise Rainer
by Mary Hilliard
[This article first appeared in Screen Book magazine, January 1938]
Little known facts about Hollywood’s least known star who refuses to bow to the dictates of convention – glamorous Luise Rainer
LUISE RAINER is Hollywood’s least known star.
Not that reams haven’t been written about her. They have. She has been pictured as a “madcap” – an elfin creature of a thousand moods. True, she won the 1936 Academy Award. True, also, they call her a “great artist.” Extravagant words to describe a person who is essentially simple The real Luise Rainer has been lost beneath a deluge of praise.
To begin with, Luise Rainer is no “madcap.” She is an intensely earnest young woman, who, happily, has a sense of humor.
Nothing she ever did was “mad” according to her lights, or anyone else’s who desired to be an individual. Only, instead of bowing to the dictates of convention, Luise chooses to be comfortable mentally, as well as physically.
About being “an artist.” There is no question about that. She is. But not the popular conception of what an artist should be.
“I have a job to do,” she says. “It is natural that I should like to do it as well as possible. If I were a typist or in any other profession I should try just as hard.
“Acting happens to be the thing which I can do best. I confess it. Acting is easy for me. And I do not spend long hours in study, or brooding contemplation. I simply watch other people and try to react as they would under varying situations.”
Luise loves music. So, enthusiastic scribes have painted the ecstatic hours that she has passed – alone, alone with just her music and chaotic thoughts.
Music is played most of the time at her home, but Luise listens with her feet firmly rooted in the ground. She takes none of these artistic mental flights for which she has been credited.
Having been brought up in the tumultuous times through and just preceeding the World War, Luise has been close to misery, want, unrest and most of the ills that afflict humankind. Hence, she is intensely human and understanding. She has a great and far-reaching sympathy and a strong sense of right and wrong.
Luise is really shy, but only among those she does not know. If she knows she is with one whom she can trust, she speaks her mind freely.
Not long ago, representatives of a national magazine called at her home to take informal pictures of her. She had been busy every day in Big City and the only time she cold see these people was after work.
Six-thirty on the dot, she drove up the driveway in her convertible coupe, hopped out, shook hands with the men as she was introduced. She exhibited no shyness before them, because she felt they were friends, and were there in her interest. She tore upstairs, to take off her make-up in order to look natural when they photographed her.
“Do you think she’ll mind posing as she removes her make-up?” asked one of the men.
They sent maid up to ask her.
“Yes, sure,” Luise called over the railing and up they came. They snapped her, an old towel around her head. They posed her with her dog, her books, by the piano. All this, after a hard day’s work and no dinner.
Luise is about fifteen pounds slimmer than she was during the filming of The Good Earth. She lost the weight during an illness around Christmas and never gained it back. However, it is becoming, particularly in the white, sharkskin slack suit she wears. With her dark hair blowing in the wind, she looks more like a lass of sixteen than a glamorous movie star.
SPEAKING of glamor, Luise doesn’t like to be termed that. And if you wish to arouse righteous Rainer wrath, just hint that she may become “star conscious.” A radio commentator did it.
Hearing what he said, she was hurt.
“It is hard enough to try to get along in a difficult business in a strange country. Why do some people try to make it so much harder? But – perhaps he has just heard the wrong thing.”
Against the advice of friends who said she was “too big” to bother calling the man, Luise rang up his office.
She told him how hard she had tried to do her best work. That it was difficult for a girl in a strange country to comprehend all the subtle ins and outs of Hollywood. She told him also, that she knew values too well to ever think she was an important star.
The commentator apologized, and thanked her for calling. It is safe to bet that Luise that day made a real friend.
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