End Credits #26: Cinema's 2014 Lost Treasures
These are some of Cinema's sad departures of 2014 taken from my personal notes soon after the tragic events took place:
She seemed immortal. All lovers of cinema knew this day would come but somehow never believed it would. Perhaps her death shouldn't seem so deeply sad at 104 but it is: About two weeks shy of her 105th birthday, actress Luise Rainer has passed away.
Rainer became a popular stage actress in Berlin and Vienna in the early 1930s having been discovered by theater director Max Reinhardt. After being spotted by a talent scout, she was offered a seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and emigrated to the United States.
Rainer made her American debut in the movie Escapade (1935) with actor William Powell, who helped the young novice adjust to acting in front of the camera. MGM cast Rainer in support of Powell's title role in The Great Ziegfeld (1936), a spectacular bio-pic that went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1936. It was widely thought that a single and most effective scene with Rainer on the telephone won her the Best Actress Academy Award. Her next performance as O-Lan in MGM producer Irving Thalberg's The Good Earth, (along with Paul Muni as her husband) greatly enhanced the film's realistic tone and she was awarded with an unprecedented second Oscar for Best Actress the following year.
Falling victim to the "Oscar curse", subsequent acting offers of quality became few and far between for the discriminating actress. Luise Rainer made some notable appearances in various TV series' (Lux Video Theatre, Suspense, and Combat!) and film (Big City, The Great Waltz and her last performance, 1997's The Gambler) but none came close in prominence to her consecutive Oscar winning roles.
Another sad loss has occurred in the entertainment industry. Edward Herrmann (July 21, 1943 - December 31, 2014) the accomplished stage, film and TV actor has died at age 71. His was the distinguished voice behind numerous History Channel specials. He often portrayed powerful influential figures, sometimes political, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt in Eleanor and Franklin, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years and Annie. He gave strong noteworthy performances in the films Reds, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Nixon (as Nelson Rockefeller), The Cat's Meow (as William Randolph Hearst) and The Aviator (as Joseph Breen). A much greater audience will remember him fondly for his roles as Richard Gilmore in TV's The Gilmore Girls, Dr. Norman Shales in Grey's Anatomy and Lionel Deerfield in The Good Wife.