Rainer, Luise (1910-2014)

The Luise Rainer collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, printed material, legal material, personal memorabilia, diaries, photographs, and other items.

Manuscripts by Rainer in the collection include her extensive writings towards an autobiography, consisting of drafts, notes, notebooks, poetry, letters, and extensive research material.  In addition, the collection includes Rainer’s narrative of her Federico Fellini’s request for her to appear in his film La Dolce Vita, and her eventual refusal, as well as a scene she wrote for herself.  Other manuscripts include three interviews of Rainer, as well as an interview of Tennessee Williams from 1965 (Rainer was present at the interview, and occasionally enters the conversation); various poems and speeches read and performed by Rainer; and a book by Francesca Knittel Bowyer titled My Mother Luise Rainer.

Correspondence forms the bulk of the collection.  The letters are both personal and professional; cumulatively, they form a comprehensive document of Rainer’s life and career.  The letters date from 1920 to 2005, and many include separate annotations by Rainer giving context for the letter’s contents.  The earlier letters, from the 1920s and 1930s, primarily pertain to Rainer’s friends and family, and are mostly in German.  Beginning in the 1940s, they are mainly in English.  Individuals with extensive correspondence with Rainer include Federico Fellini, Alfred Steiglitz, Anais Nin, Robert Knittel, and Clifford Odets.  The letters between Odets and Rainer date from 1936 to 1941, and give a complete picture of their complicated relationship; there are also several letters from Clifford's son Walt Odets.  The letters between Rainer and Robert Knittel and his family give a portrait of a very different marriage.  Other notable correspondents include Samuel Barber, Bertolt Brecht, Pearl S. Buck, Paul Claudel, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, Eleonora Duse, Lion Feuchtwanger, Carlos Fuentes, Albert Finney, John Gielgud, Alec Guinness, Dag Hammarskjold, Lillian Hellman, Teddy Kollek, Henry Kissinger, Vivien Leigh, Michael Mac Liammoir, Lotte Lenya, Alma Mahler, Laurence Olivier, Erich Maria Remarque (his letters include a poem in his own hand), Jean Renoir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sibyl Thorndike, and Luchino Visconti.  The collection also includes some fan mail.

Printed material in the collection primarily consists of newspaper and magazine clippings of articles pertaining to Rainer's film and stage performances, with several items about The Great Ziegfield and The Good Earth.  These items date from 1927 to 2001.  There are also some additional clippings regarding Rainer and Clifford Odets (1937-1938), as well as some items pertaining to Rainer's efforts to sell war bonds during World War II (1942).  Other printed material includes sheet music of songs from The Great Waltz, The Great Ziegfeld, and Escapade; booklets regarding exhibits of Clifford Odets' artwork (1996 and 2002); an information packet for the 70th Academy Awards ceremony in 1997 (Rainer appeared on stage with all living Oscar winners); and other items.

Legal material in the collection consists of items regarding her contract arrangements with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio.  These include and letters between Rainer, E. J. Mannix, Louis B. Mayer, and Nicholas Schenck pertaining to Rainer's dissatisfaction with her film work and her desire to be released from her contract.

Personal memorabilia in the collection includes a sash honoring Rainer, from Austria (1931);  scrapbook kept by Rainer (1937); Rainer and Odets' marriage certificate (1937); an certificate of appreciation for Rainer from the U.S. Army (1950); an award from the World Who's Who of Women (1973); a certificate from the London Gardens Society (1976); items regarding Rainer's paintings (1978); Francesca Knittel's grades and progress reports from the Lycee Francais de Londres; an aluminum ID medallion for Rainer; and other items.

Diaries in the collection by Rainer include a journal in her hand (in German), dated ca. 1921, and several pocket calendars dating from 1958 to 1967.  Also present are excerpts from Clifford Odets' journal of 1940, selected, typed, and annotated by Rainer, along with other Odets-related items with Rainer's notes and several handwritten notes of Rainer's memories of Odets and their relationship.

Photographs in the collection are extensive.  They date from 1928 to 2000, and include numerous images of Rainer with friends, family, at work, and in her private life.  Notable photos include images from Rainer's early stage career; Rainer giving a speech for Russian war relief with Averell Harriman (ca. 1941-1942); and Rainer in Africa with troops during World War II.  Prominent individuals portrayed in the photos include Alfred Steiglitz, Federico Fellini, Robert Knittel, and Clifford Odets.  The Odets photos include shapshots of him with Rainer; portraits of him; and a copy of a photo of Rainer that Odets kept on his desk, with a descriptive note by Rainer.  Other photos include prints of actresses Eleanora Duse, Ethel Barrymore, and Sarah Bernhardt.

Other material in the collection includes VHS video cassette recordings of The Great Ziegfeld (1936), The Good Earth (1937), and The Great Waltz (1938).

Notable Figures
1. Rainer, Luise
Associated Subjects
1. Women's Studies Collections -- Drama, Film, and Television Subject Guide
2. Theatre and Film Subject Guide
3. Helen Deutsch Research Section