Born 1906 as Laura Augusta Gainor in Germantown, Philadelphia, American actress and painter Janet Gaynor began her career as an extra in shorts and silent films. After signing with Fox Film Corporation (later 20th Century-Fox) in 1926, she rose to fame and became one of the biggest box office draws of the era.
In 1929, Gaynor was the first winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performances in three films: 7th Heaven (1927), Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927), and Street Angel (1928). This was the only occasion on which an actress has won one Oscar for multiple film roles.
Gaynor’s career success continued into the sound film era, and she achieved a notable success in the original version of A Star Is Born (1937), for which she received a second Best Actress Academy Award nomination.
Gaynor retired from acting in 1939, and briefly returned to acting in films and television in the 1950s, and later became an accomplished oil painter.
In 1980, Gaynor made her Broadway debut in the stage adaptation of the 1971 film Harold and Maude and appeared in the touring theatrical production of On Golden Pond in February 1982.
In September 1982, she sustained multiple injuries when the taxicab in which she and others were passengers was struck by a drunken driver. These injuries eventually caused her death in September 1984.
Take a look at these glamorous photos to see the beauty of Janet Gaynor in the 1920s and 1930s.