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Janet Gaynor Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (3) | Trivia (8) | Personal Quotes (1) | Salary (3)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 6 October 1906Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Date of Death 14 September 1984Palm Springs, California, USA  (complications from a 1982 traffic accident)
Birth NameLaura Augusta Gainor
Nickname Lolly
Height 5' (1.52 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Janet Gaynor was born Laura Gainor on October 6, 1906, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As a child, she & her parents moved to San Francisco, California, where she graduated from high school in 1923. She then moved to Los Angeles where she enrolled in a secretarial school. She got a job at a shoe store for the princely sum of $18 per week. However, since L.A. was the land of stars and studios, she wanted to try her hand at acting. She managed to land unbilled bit parts in several feature films and comedy shorts. She bided her time, believing "Good things come to those who wait." She didn't have to wait too long, either. In 1926, at the age of 20, she turned in a superb performance as Anna Burger in The Johnstown Flood (1926). The Hollywood moguls knew they had a top star on their hands and cast her in several other leading roles that year, including The Shamrock Handicap (1926), The Blue Eagle (1926), The Midnight Kiss (1926) and The Return of Peter Grimm (1926). The next year she turned in acclaimed performances in two classic films, 7th Heaven (1927) and Sunrise (1927). Based on the strength of those two films plus Street Angel (1928), Janet received the very first Academy Award for best actress. This was the first and only time an actress won the Oscar for multiple roles. When "talkies" replaced silent films, Janet was one of the few who made a successful transition, not only because of her great acting ability but for her charming voice as well. Without a doubt, Janet had already lived a true rags-to-riches story. Throughout the mid-1930s she was the top drawing star at theaters. She turned in grand performances in several otherwise undistinguished films.

Then came A Star Is Born (1937). She was very convincing as Vicki Lester (aka Esther Blodgett), struggling actress trying for the big time. Told by the receptionist at Central casting "You know what your chances are? One in a hundred thousand," Esther/Vicki replies, "But maybe--I'm that one." For her outstanding performance she was nominated for another Oscar, but lost to Luise Rainer's performance in The Good Earth (1937), her second in as many tries. After appearing in The Young in Heart (1938), Janet didn't appear in another film until 1957's Bernardine (1957). Her last performance was in a Broadway version of Harold and Maude. Although the play was a flop, Janet's performance salvaged it to any degree - she still had what it took to entertain the public. On September 14, 1984, Janet passed away from pneumonia in Palm Springs, California, at the age of 77.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson

After graduating from high school in San Francisco, Janet moved to Los Angeles and enrolled at a Hollywood secretarial college. Eager to get into movies, she started working as an extra in comedy shorts. In 1925, she was hired by Fox and was cast in The Johnstown Flood (1926). In 1927 she appeared in 7th Heaven (1927) as Diane and Sunrise (1927) as the wife in danger. For those two movies and the Street Angel (1928), Janet received the first Oscar for best actress. She was to become one of the biggest stars at Fox. She was teamed with Charles Farrell in 11 films altogether as she went from "the World's Sweetheart" to "America's favorite love-birds".

When sound came in, Janet did not miss a beat since her voice translated well to sound. In most of these films, including the musical talkie Sunnyside Up (1929), Janet played the poor little waif who falls for Farrell. By 1934, she was Hollywood's top box office attraction. Fox and Janet began to disagree on the roles that were assigned to her and as her popularity waned, the roles became worse. She left Fox in 1936 but gave such a great performance in A Star Is Born (1937) that she was nominated for an Academy Award. By then, her first marriage had ended and she made only two more films. She retired from the screen when she married Hollywood costume designer Gilbert Adrian in 1939. She returned to the screen only once more to make a guest appearance as Pat Boone's mother in Bernardine (1957).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Spouse (3)

Paul Gregory (24 December 1964 - 14 September 1984) (her death)
Adrian (14 August 1939 - 13 September 1959) (his death) (1 child)
Jesse Lydell Peck (11 September 1929 - 7 April 1933) (divorced)

Trivia (8)

In September 1982, Ms. Gaynor, who was 75, was seriously injured in a San Francisco taxi cab accident which also injured her husband, executive producer Paul Gregory, and actress Mary Martin. The accident proved fatal for Martin's agent, Ben Washer. Gaynor suffered 11 broken ribs, a ruptured bladder, a broken collar bone, a bleeding kidney, and multiple pelvic fractures. She was to endure a number of operations in the next year and grew weaker until her death in 1984.
Until 1986, she was the youngest leading actress to be awarded an Oscar.
Interred at Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now called Hollywood Forever), Hollywood, California, USA, Section B, east side of lake.
She was the first actress to win the Academy Award as best actress. In the early years, actors could receive one Oscar for several films. Gaynor won for Sunrise (1927), 7th Heaven (1927) and Street Angel (1928).
Gave birth to her only child at age 33, a son Robin Gaynor Adrian on July 6, 1940. Child's father was her 2nd husband, Adrian.
As of 2013 Gaynor is the third-youngest actress to have won the Best Actress Academy Award, winning the Oscar at the age of 22, behind only Jennifer Lawrence (also 22) and Marlee Matlin (21).
Was considered for the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939).
Was the 1st actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Actress Oscar for her performances in 7th Heaven (1927), Street Angel (1928) and Sunrise (1927) at The 1st Academy Awards on May 16, 1929.

Personal Quotes (1)

[on receiving the first Best Actress Oscar] Naturally, I was thrilled, but being the first year, the Academy Awards had no background or tradition, and it naturally didn't mean what it does now. Had I known then what it would come to mean in the next few years, I'm sure I'd have been overwhelmed. At the time, I think I was more thrilled over meeting Douglas Fairbanks.

Salary (3)

7th Heaven (1927) $1,500 @week
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) $100 /week
Street Angel (1928) $1,500 @week

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