Luise Rainer is a retired German-born Austrian and American film actress. She was the first actor to win multiple Academy Awards and the first person to win them consecutively. She was discovered by American studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer talent scouts while acting on stage in Austria and Germany and after appearing in Austrian films. She is currently the oldest living Academy Award winner and is among the few surviving leading ladies from the 1930s. Luise currently resides in the United Kingdom
Her training began in Germany from the age of 16 by leading Austrian stage director Max Reinhardt. After a few years, she became recognized as a "distinguished Berlin stage actress", acting with Reinhardt's Vienna theater ensemble. Critics "raved" about her stage and film acting quality, leading MGM to sign her to a three-year contract and bring her to Hollywood in 1935. A number of filmmakers anticipated she might become another Greta Garbo, MGM's leading female star.
Her first American role was in the film Escapade, which was soon followed with a relatively small part in the musical biopic The Great Ziegfeld. Despite her limited appearances in the film, she "so impressed audiences" that she won the Oscar for Best Actress. For her dramatic telephone scene in the film, she was later dubbed "the Viennese teardrop". In her next role, producer Irving Thalberg was convinced, despite the studio's disagreement, that she could play the part of a poor uncomely Chinese farm wife in The Good Earth, based on Pearl Buck's novel about hardship in China. The subdued character she played was such a dramatic contrast to her previous, vivacious character, that she won another Academy Award.