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Summary Article: Gaynor, Janet (1906 Philadelphia, PA-1984 Palm Springs, CA)
from Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930, An

Courtesy of Silents Are Golden at<>

Janet Gaynor had an engagingly youthful demeanor that was a hit with audiences for many years. She won the first Best Actress Award given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1928 for her accumulated work in Seventh Heaven (1927), Sunrise (1927), and Street Angel (1928). She was the first and only actor to receive the award for more than one performance.

Although she originally moved to Los Angeles to attend secretarial school, she was soon making the rounds of the studios in search of movie work. She got her first acting experience in Hal Roach's comedy shorts and bit parts in formula westerns. In 1926 she was cast as Anna Burger in her first feature-length film, The Johnstown Flood, which resulted in an offer of a five-year contract with Fox Studios. That year she was also chosen as a WAMPAS Baby Star.

After winning the Academy Award, she was paired with Charles Farrell as “America's favorite love-birds” in a series often films. She and Farrell starred in Sunny Side Up (1929), supposedly the first musical written for film. She made the transition to sound as one of the biggest stars at Fox Studios. She was one of the most popular actors in the 1930s tying Marie Dressier in 1931-1932 as the top box office star; in 1934, after Dressler's death, Gaynor held that title alone.

After several years of mediocre films, she had a huge hit with A Star Is Born (1937). She was nominated for another Academy Award for her portrayal of Vicki Lester/Esther Blodgett but was edged out by Luise Rainer. She next starred in The Young in Heart (1938) but retired in 1939 after marrying costume designer (Gilbert) Adrian. She made occasional appearances during the early years of television and appeared as Pat Boone's mother in the 1957 film Bernardine.

During her retirement she indulged her interest in painting until she was injured in an automobile accident along with Mary Martin in 1982. She never fully recovered from her injuries, and she died from complications of those injuries in 1984. Prior to her death she told a reporter, “I think I had a wonderful career.… I enjoyed it all.”

Film Credits
1924 Cupid's Rustler; Young Ideas; All Wet
1925 The Haunted Honeymoon; Dangerous Innocence; The Burning Trail; The Teaser; The Plastic Age; Crook Buster
1926 The Beautiful Cheat; The Johnstown Flood; Ridin ‘for Love; Skinner's Dress Suit; The Shamrock Handicap; The Galloping Cowboy; The Fire Barrier; The Man in the Saddle; Don't Shoot; The Blue Eagle; The Midnight Kiss; The Return of Peter Grimm; Martin of the Mounted; Lazy Lightning; The Stolen Ranch; Pep of the Lady J; Forty-Five Minutes from Hollywood; Fade Away Foster; Oh, What A Nurse!
1927 Seventh Heaven; The Horse Trader; Two Girls Wanted; Sunrise
1928 Street Angel; 4 Devils
1929 Lucky Star; Christina; Sunny Side Up
1930 High Society Blues; Happy Days
1931 The Man Who Came Back; Daddy Long Legs; Merely Mary Ann; Delicious
1932 Tess of the Storm Country; The First Year
1933 Adorable; Paddy the Next Best Thing; State Fair
1934 Servants' Entrance; Change of Heart; Carolina
1935 One More Spring; The Farmer Takes a Wife
1936 Small Town Girl; Ladies in Love
1937 A Star Is Born
1938 Three Loves Has Nancy; The Young in Heart
1957 Bernardine
© 2005 by Denise Lowe

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