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Janet Gaynor, Award Winner –

Gaynor in SUNRISE.

Janet Gaynor: Best Actress, 1927/28:

Seventh Heaven (Romance/Drama)
Sunrise (Drama)
Street Angel (Romance)

Janet Gaynor was 22 years old when she received her Best Actress Oscar for her performance in three silent films: SEVENTH HEAVEN, SUNRISE, and STREET ANGEL. In its first year, the Motion Picture Academy gave acting awards on the basis of a performer's yearly output, instead of for a single performance.

SEVENTH HEAVEN is one of the great movie romances of all time. Janet was paired with Charles Farrell, and they were to make 11 more films together, making them one of the screen's most popular romantic teams.

SUNRISE is a drama about a husband plotting to do away with his wife.

STREET ANGEL is a romantic soap opera set in Italy with Charles Farrell.

About Janet Gaynor (1906 – 1984)

Janet Gaynor was born Laura Augusta Gainor on October 6th, 1906 in Germantown, PA, to Laura and Frank De Witt Gainor; the youngest of their two daughters. As a toddler, her father who was a theatrical painter and paper hanger, began to teach her how to sing, dance and perform acrobatics; perhaps seeing her early gifts, or was thinking for her future.

The family lived in Philadelphia. where Janet began acting in school plays during her childhood.

When she was eight, her parents got divorced, which resulted in Janet, her sister and mother moving to Chicago, away from her father. Her mother met electrician Harry C. Jones and fell in love again, marrying him.

This new family moved again to San Francisco. Janet attended San Francisco Polytechnic High School, where she probably joined the drama program and experienced more plays. In 1923, Janet graduated from high school, and spent the winter in Melbourne, Florida, acting in stage productions.

When Janet came back to San Francisco, her parents wanted to support her acting chances, and moved down to Los Angeles, where she would be able to find work as a thespian. Janet wasn't sure about her chances, so she first enrolled herself in Hollywood Secretarial School, worked in a shoe store and later as a Theatre usher.

Both her step-father and mother believed in her gifts, and continued to encourage her to try to get into the studio system. Finally, Janet began the rounds to visit the studios, with her step-father along for moral support. She at first landed extra work in feature films, and was eventually hired as a stock actress by Universal.

However, a Fox executive opened an important door that gave Janet's career a boost by offering her a screen test for a supporting role in the 1926 film, THE JOHNSTON FLOOD. After her screen test, Janet was cast for this role, which ended her 6 week stint with Universal. In fact, her performance in this role inspired the Fox executives to offer Janet a five year contract. Her star was rising!

Janet Gaynor was one of the few silent players who were able to survive sound, and Gaynor remained a major star for another decade. During the twenties and thirties, Janet Gaynor was immensely popular in sentimental stories, comedies and musicals, being type cast as the sweet, vulnerable young thing.

For Fox Studios, Janet made 36 films. She was often teamed with actor Charle Farrell. Together, they starred in 11 films; all hits with their fans. They were truly "America's favorite love birds."

Her peak was in the mid-thirties, becoming the top female star draw for theaters. But the tastes of the public changed, and the studio wouldn't let her play any other character, except what they had already assigned her . Her popularity dropped from being number one to twenty four. Fox made noises of wanting to renegotiate her contract and demote her to being a featured actress.

In 1937, Janet Gaynor left Fox and joined David O. Selznick to be in his film, A STAR IS BORN, for which she was nominated for her performance in this film. This jump-started her career for awhile, but she decided to retire from films in 1939 because she wanted to be married and have a child.

Janet explained her retirement in a 1939 interview, after she had married Hollywood fashion designer Gilbert Adrian. "Making movies was really all I knew of life. I just wanted to have time to know other things. Most of all I wanted to fall in love. I wanted to get married. I wanted a child. And I knew that in order to have these things one had to make time for them. So I simply stopped making movies. Then as if by a miracle, everything I really wanted happened."

Janet and Gilbert had a son, Robin Gaynor Adrian. Janet, Gilbert and their son spent their time between their 250 acre cattle ranch and their homes in New York and California.

She found that she now had time she wanted to enjoy life with her family, and become an accomplished oil painter. Apparently, she inherited her birth father's talent in this area.

In 1959, Gilbert died of a stroke. Janet found love again, and married Paul Gregory on December 24th, 1964, that lasted the rest of her life.

Janet didn't stop acting completely, as she did another film, some television projects in the 1950s, and a few stage productions in the coming years. In 1957, Janet co-starred with Pat Boone, and Terry Moore, in the 20th Century Fox film, BERNARDINE, which was her last film.

Janet appeared in the following TV series: MEDALLION THEATRE (Dear Cynthia, 1953), LUX VIDEO THEATRE (Eleanor, 1954), GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER (The Flying Nun-1959). and three episodes in 1981 of THE LOVE BOAT, portraying the character, Violet Hooper.

Her final acting role was in a touring stage production of ON GOLDEN POND INN February of 1982, a few months before her life-changing event.

On September 14th, 1984, Janet died from injuries that she received in a San Francisco car accident in September of 1982, as she never fully recovered. The cab in which Janet, her husband, Paul Gregory, Mary Martin and her manager were riding, was hit by a drunk driver.

This crash killed Mary Martin's agent, Ben Washer, Mary Martin broke two ribs and her pelvis, Paul suffered two broken legs, and Janet suffered serious internal injuries that she never quite recovered from. She recovered enough to go hime, but required frequent hospitalization.

Janet Gaynor's notable movie credits include...






Janet Gaynor in SEVENTH HEAVEN.