Sometimes here at Classicmoviechat we realize there are stars from the past whom we’ve overlooked in our zeal to keep the Golden Age of Hollywood alive for younger readers.
And we’ve recently been reminded of Janet Gaynor. (Perhaps the recent string of her films on TCM helped.)
Gaynor was extremely popular in silents and made the transition to sound films in the late 20s. She was often teamed with Charles Farrell.
Farrell also made the transition to talkies, but for some reason or other abandoned films and retreated to Palm Springs where with his pal, Ralph Bellamy, founded the Racquet Club.
Farrell is the subject of a future blog. For now let’s highlight Gaynor.
She was a major star, but today seems forgotten. Why?
Probably because she didn’t have a distinct personality. She was more the girl next door. And probably because that although she appeared in some classic films, notably F.W. Marnau’s Sunrise in 1927 and the original 1937 version of A Star is Born, her impact was minimal.
Still, in her day she had a huge fan base. When her film career — which eventually covered nearly 70 movie and tv credits — was about to fade she retired, and married MGM dress designer Adrian. They stayed married until his death and had one son. Rumors in Hollywood were that it was a “lavender”marriage, meaning Adrian was openly gay. This, of course, led to rumors that Gaynor was bisexual herself.
In later years she returned to acting, starring on Broadway and live TV. In her last film, the 1957 musical comedy Bernadine – which includes in the cast this week’s Quiz subject Terry Moore — Gaynor costars with none other than Pat Boone.
Janet Gaynor, like many retired stars, had other talents. She was involved with fashion designing. She was also an accomplished and successful painter. She sold over 200 still lifes and had many exhibitions.
After Adrian’s death Gaynor married film producer Paul Gregory. They, along with their friends Mary Martin and Ben Washer, were in an auto accident in San Francisco in 1982. Washer, Martin’s agent, was killed and the others seriously injured. Gaynor died two years later from the injuries sustained in the crash. She was 77.