The 1930s was the decade in which Luise’s life changed forever. At the start of the 1930s she was acting with Max Reinhardt’s company on tour in Europe (specific dates are not yet known). Then, in 1935, she left to take up her new life in Hollywood, and, creatively, she achieved more in the 1930s than at any other time in her life; but this was also to be her most destructive and passionate decade. In only three years at MGM she made eight films, she won two Academy Awards, she met, married and separated from Clifford Odets and she lost her first child. This period would turn out to be less than 10% of her life, but it changed everything. Aside from the Oscars and Odets, notable highlights of the 1930s were Luise’s discovery on stage in Vienna, her American citizenship and her UK stage debut.
The list is in chronological order and includes key dates in Luise’s life and career. A * denotes magazine and newspaper articles and interviews, most of which have been copied in full and are available on this site – click the links to open a new page.
: Sees a performance by the Russian-Jewish Habimah players which cements her desire to be a performer. In return they see her play ‘Anitra’ in Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and a mutual admiration developed. Luise followed them on tour throughout Germany. Before they left the country they asked Luise’s father if she could join the troupe. He refused, and Luise was unable to defy him.
Sep 12: Opening night of Phaea by Fritz von Unruh at the Volkstheater, Vienna. Luise plays the lead role.
: Release of her debut film, Sehnsucht 202
: Release of her second film, Heut’ kommt’s drauf ‘an
Jan: Stuttgarter Illustrierte: Schauspielerinnen*
Feb 27: In Berlin, Luise witnesses the burning of the Reichstag building
: Plays ‘Roberta’ in Dreiser’s An American Tragedy. Spotted by MGM talent scout Bob Ritchie and offered a contract
: Signs five-year contract with MGM
Jan 9: Leaves Le Havre on the ship Ile de France for New York and MGM
Jul 6: Release of Escapade, her first English language film
Mar 6: The Life Story of Luise Rainer in Picture Show magazine*
Apr 8: Release of her second MGM film, The Great Ziegfeld
Apr 27: Attends Leopold Stokowski concert at the Pan Pacific Auditorium, with William Wyler
July: The Tempestuous Life Story of Luise Rainer (Photoplay magazine)*
Nov 21: Clifford Odets writes to Luise’s parents asking for permission to marry. He has not yet met either of them.
: Joins the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League protests against Vittorio Mussolini’s visit
Jan 4: Wins the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Actress in The Great Ziegfeld
Jan 8: Marries Clifford Odets at their home in Brentwood Heights
Jan 29: Premiere of her third MGM film, The Good Earth, in Los Angeles
Feb 11: Takes part in a Flood Relief Benefit show at Radio City Music Hall, New York
Mar 4: Wins her first Academy Award: Best Actress for The Great Ziegfeld
Apr 11: Cover portrait for New York’s Sunday Mirror Magazine*
May 21: Awarded an honorary membership from the American Institute of Cinematography for her performance in The Good Earth, at the Cinema Progress Banquet
July: Hosts a luncheon at the MGM commissary for Ernest Hemingway. Director Dorothy Arzner and Joe Mankiewicz were among those in attendance.
Jul 2: Release of her fourth MGM film, The Emperor’s Candlesticks
Jul 10: Garbo’s Greatest Rival article in Picturegoer*
Jul 12: Attends private screening of Joris Ivens’ and Ernest Hemingway’s film The Spanish Earth at Fredric March’s Hollywood home; also in attendance are Ernst Lubitsch, King Vidor, Fritz Lang, Anatole Litvak, Lewis Milestone, John Cromwell, Robert Montgomery, Errol Flynn, Miriam Hopkins, Joan Bennett, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, Dashiell Hammett, Donald Ogden Stewart and Marc Connelly
Jul 22: Attends the Screen Writers’ Guild Dinner Dance at the Ambassador Hotel, L.A. with Fredric March
Sept 3: Release of her fifth MGM film: Big City
Oct 1: Addresses 22,000 people at Madison Square Garden, New York upon the occasion of the Japanese invasion of China
Nov: Luise and Gale Sondergaard host a cocktail reception at Sondergaard’s home as part of a benefit for the Motion Picture Artists Committee for the Spanish Loyalists. Anna May Wong, Gloria Stuart and Edward G. Robinson were among the attendees.
Nov 4: Opening night of Odets’ play Golden Boy at the Belasco Theatre, New York City. Luise was not in attendance but all copies of the play are dedicated to her.
Jan 1: Woman the Drudge – a poignant study by Luise Rainer in The Good Earth in Film Pictorial magazine*
Feb: Hosts a benefit at Clara Bow’s ‘It Cafe’ for Chinese and Japanese war orphans
Mar 10: Awarded her second Oscar for Best Actress for The Good Earth
May 26: Discovers that she is pregnant with Odets’ child
May 28: Luise wires Clifford Odets (in New York): “I am going to have a baby. Luise.”
Between May 28 and Jun 10: Luise has an abortion
Jun 10: Announces that she has filed for divorce from Clifford Odets
Jun 10: Release of her sixth MGM film, The Toy Wife
Jul: No Glamour, Please! by Cyril Vandour in Silver Screen magazine*
Jul 25: Takes her American citizenship examination in Los Angeles
Oct: Fighting for Freedom in Modern Movies magazine*
Oct 16: Wrap party for Dramatic School, held at Eddie Price’s house
Nov: Luise, Frank Capra and John Garfield organize a rally for the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League for the Defense of American Democracy at the Philharmonic Auditorium, Los Angeles
Nov 4: Release of her seventh an penultimate MGM film, The Great Waltz
Nov 19: Becomes a US citizen, sworn in by Judge Jeremiah Neter
Dec 9: Release of her eighth and final MGM film, Dramatic School
: Dissolution of contract with MGM
: Separation from Clifford Odets
Jan 20: Le trop sensible Luise Rainer article in Cine-Miroir magazine*
Feb: No Sacrifice Is To Great For Love article and interview in Movie Mirror magazine*
May 1: Makes her British stage debut at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, in Jacques Deval’s play Behold the Bride
May 6: Cover star of British news magazine Picture Post
May 23: Behold the Bride opens at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London
June 26: Miss Rainer told me in the “Q” Theatre programme*
Nov: Appears in the “Night of Stars” event at Madison Square Garden, organized by Joan Blondell and Dick Powell to benefit the “United Palestine Appeal” refugee effort