With the deaths of both Bette Davis and Greta Garbo within a year of one another (in 1989 and 1990) it could not have been lost on Luise that her standing as one of the brightest stars of 1930s Hollywood was in danger of being erased from history. She had never capitalised on that fame and by the 1990s her name was just a footnote in Hollywood history. Is it a coincidence then that this was the decade she chose to make her return to the big screen, after a break of 53 years? Not only that, her appearance in The Gambler (aged 87) kick-started a second comeback that continued until her death in 2014. Although a small film in many ways, observers (those that had heard of her) seemed to marvel that she was still alive and Luise took the opportunity to enjoy what time she had left in the limelight. As the decade, century and millennium drew to a close Luise, who had witnessed 90 years of history, was called upon to share her memories at the National Theatre and in radio and television documentaries. Other notable highlights of the 1990s were her return to the Academy Awards (“If I don’t show up they’ll think I am dead!”, she remarked at the time).
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.
July: Rare screening of Escapade (1935) at the Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto; part of a William Powell retrospective, Luise was not in attendance
Luise makes a personal appearance at Cinecon 30, the Society of Cinephiles’ 30th annual convention in Los Angeles for a very rare screening of Escapade (1935)
Oct 30: UK premiere of The Gambler, her first theatrical feature film in 54 years
Mar 23: Attends Academy Awards for a retrospective of Oscar winners to celebrate their 70th anniversary
Apr: *The Last Goddess – interview by Marie Brenner for Vanity Fair, with photo by Annie Liebowitz
Mar 4: Appears at National Theatre, London to discuss Waiting for Lefty, written by her first husband, Clifford Odets. Part of the NT2000: 100 Plays of the Century season.
Apr 2: Appears on popular British radio programme Desert Island Discs
Aug 12: *Revenge of a Studio Pawn: A Comeback After 55 Years – interview for the New York Times, by Mel Gussow
Sep 1: *Luise Rainer: She Did It Her Way – interview for Movie Maker magazine by Kevin Lewis