Friday, December 21, 2007

CTD and O: Myrna Loy -> Luise Rainer

She smiled down at me from yellowed fragile paper trapped in wood and glass. I walked up, gazed at the wall, full of faces, smiling and glazed over, "Gary Cooper, $13.00" "Will Rogers, $13.00" "Eileen Sedgewick, $13.00" and then "Movie Star, $13.00". The faces went on and on, down the wall and spilling out onto the table, but all I could do was look at her. I reached up and pulled her picture down, and turned and walked quickly to catch up with Jim.

"Movie Star, $13.00"

Why does that make me smile so? When we finally gathered all of our spoils onto the checkout table, the snow-white haired, crinkly old lady writing our ticket leaned over as I pointed to the picture. "Can you believe that it just says 'Movie Star'? That's so funny. Myrna Loy? Can you imagine?"

She stared up at me and smiled politely. "Oh IS it? Oh dear, I guess so."

She had no idea. And I guess that scared me a little. And made me a little sad for her.

Myrna Loy solved crimes with William Powell in "The Thin Man series"(1934). Myrna Loy battled brains with Cary Grant in "The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer" (1947) and "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House."(1948)

Myrna Loy vamped it up in a Natacha Rambova penned film, "What Price Beauty?" in 1925. (Rambova was the second wife of Rudolph Valentino) She also appeared in Al Jolson's "The Jazz Singer"(1927).

In 1934 she appeared in "Manhattan Melodrama" with Clark Gable and William Powell. The gangster John Dillinger was shot to death after leaving a screening of the film. She also played the part of Billie Burke (Florenz Ziegfeld's wife) in the Academy Award winning film "The Great Ziegfeld". Billie Burke is best known as Glinda the Good Witch in "The Wizard of Oz". Anna Held, Florenz Ziegfeld's common-law wife, was played by none other than two time academy award winner Luise Rainer.

Some November night, shortly after I broke my foot, I sat in the living room watching an array of musical biopics on TCM. I fell in love with Luise Rainer in the midst of the film "The Great Waltz"(1938). As she (Poldi Vogelhuber) becomes aware of her husband's (Johann Strauss II) affair, her eyes fill with tears. She loves him so much and is so devoted to him that she weathers effects of the tumultuous affair. She is brave and amazing. The movie also stars the great French actor Fernand Garvey and opera singer Miliza Korjus (who garnered an Academy Award nomination for her performance).

Luise Rainer

At 97 years of age, Luise Rainer is the oldest living Academy Award winner.

1936 - The Great Zeigfeld
1937 - The Good Earth

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