Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Underdog Series Part 7

Janet Gaynor is a personal favorite actress of mine and I am so happy to be adding her to the Underdog Series. In my opinion, I feel that she deserves to be included on the list because she is so incredibly under looked today and not as many people know her as well. I seriously haven't seen a movies of hers, that I didn't enjoy. So sit back and enjoy the Underdog Series Part 7 starring Janet Gaynor.

Janet Gaynor was born Laura Augusta Gainor on October 6th 1906 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When she was just a child, her parents and her moved to San Francisco, California. She would graduate from high school in 1923 at the age of 16. After high school, Janet enrolled into a secretarial school in Los Angeles. Being wide-eyed and excited because of being in Los Angeles, where stars were made, Janet wanted to try and see if you could make into the movies. Fairly quickly, Janet got some bit parts but as she continued her unbilled roles, people were beginning to take notice of her. At the age of 20, Janet was cast in the disaster film "The Johnstown Flood", based on the horrendous flooding that had occurred in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1889.

After her success in "The Johnstown Flood", Janet began to get meatier roles such as "The Return of Peter Grimm" and "The Blue Eagle". It was until 1927 though, that Janet began to reach her biggest potential when she was casted in "7th Heaven" and "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans". Janet was nominated for and won for "7th Heaven", "Street Angel, and "Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans" for best actress. She and her co-star Charles Farrel made several films together including that of "Street Angel" and "7th Heaven". It was even rumored that they were an item and in Douglas Fairbanks Jr's autobiogarphy, he claims that he knew they were an item.

Janet's career was at an all-time high but new things were coming to Hollywood and it was sound. Several actors and actresses who were popular during the silent era had a a difficult time trying to make it to talking pictures because their accents were too thick to understand but Janet was perfectly fine. Her voice was somewhat squeaky but it was perfectly fine for the way she looked.

In the late 1920's and early 1930's, Janet continued to shine. In 1929, She married Jesse Lydell Peck but the marriage lasted for just 3 years. She remarried in August 1939, to costume designer,they would remain married until his death in 1959. The couple had a child together named Robin Gaynor Adrian, who was born in 1940. After her 2nd husband's death, Janet married for one last time to a much younger man named Paul Gregory. They stayed married until her death in 1984.

Throughout the early 1930's, Janet was still going strong in her movies. She was cast alongside such actors as Henry Fonda, Robert Montgomery, Fredric March, and Robert Taylor.

Her career began to slow down a bit in the late 30's and one film really brought her back "A Star is Born", the film was about a young woman who vies to be an actress in Hollywood but when she seems to get everything she wants, there are some things she is unable to fix. Not only was it a huge comeback for Janet but also for her co-star Fredric March. After "A Star is Born", Janet did a few more films and decided to retire from films all together. Although in 1957, she would do one film called "Bernardine", but she would never come back to her once successful fame.

Janet did several television appearances but typically stayed away from the spot light. In September of 1982, Janet, her close friend Mary Martin(Larry Hagman's mother), her husband Paul Gregory, and Martin's agent were in a serious car accident. The car accident was caused by a drunk driver. The accident was fatal to Martin's agent and Janet suffered several injuries including 11 broken ribs, a ruptured bladder, a broken collar bone, a bleeding kidney, and multiple pelvic fractures. After the accident, Janet went through several operations but she became weaker and weaker from the injuries. Her husband Paul Gregory and Mary Martin were injured in the accident but thoughts were entirely on Janet. On September 14th 1984, Janet passed away.

Best Films-

"7th Heaven"
"Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans"
"Small Town Girl"
"A Star is Born"
"The Young in Heart"

Janet brought an innocence and happiness to the screen throughout her film career and will continue to be missed. My next candidate for The Underdog Series will be Douglas Fairbanks Jr and I'll have plenty on him. Hopefully I can post something else besides my Underdog Series posts, so be on the lookout for that!


Kate Gabrielle said...

I love the Underdog series- I always learn so much about stars I like & didn't know much about!

Have you seen Three Loves Has Nancy? I think it ties with The Young In Heart for my favorite Janet Gaynor film (plus it costars on of my top favorite actors, Robert Montgomery) she's so spunky in it!

Lolita said...

Thanks for casting some light on Janet! Great post.