As awards near, Oscar refusenik Luise Rainer stands out for her defiance

At 104, Luise Rainer is the oldest surviving actor from Hollywood’s golden age. It is not just her longevity that’s remarkable. The defiance Rainer showed in the face of one of the most sycophantic industries in the world is a rarity too. She did two things no one else had ever done: She became the first actor to win consecutive Oscars, and then the first actor bathed in Oscar glory to be dropped by her studio. MGM let her go because she refused to be pigeonholed in the parts her boss felt best suited his women stars, instead demanding strong roles, such as Madame Curie or Nora in “The Doll’s House.” When Louis B. Mayer threatened to blacklist her, she coolly predicted she would outlast him. “You are now 60 and I am 20,” she told the astonished mogul. “When I am 40, the age of a successful actress, you will be dead and I will live!” These words pretty much ended her career in Hollywood, and,  returning to the theatre, her first love, she even used her Oscar statuette as a doorstop.

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(Photo: Keystone-France/Getty Images)

As awards near, Oscar refusenik Luise Rainer stands out for her defiance

At 104, Luise Rainer is the oldest surviving actor from Hollywood’s golden age. It is not just her longevity that’s remarkable. The defiance Rainer showed in the face of one of the most sycophantic industries in the world is a rarity too. She did two things no one else had ever done: She became the first actor to win consecutive Oscars, and then the first actor bathed in Oscar glory to be dropped by her studio. MGM let her go because she refused to be pigeonholed in the parts her boss felt best suited his women stars, instead demanding strong roles, such as Madame Curie or Nora in “The Doll’s House.” When Louis B. Mayer threatened to blacklist her, she coolly predicted she would outlast him. “You are now 60 and I am 20,” she told the astonished mogul. “When I am 40, the age of a successful actress, you will be dead and I will live!” These words pretty much ended her career in Hollywood, and,  returning to the theatre, her first love, she even used her Oscar statuette as a doorstop.

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(Photo: Keystone-France/Getty Images)

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