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Janet Gaynor

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Janet Gaynor (October 6, 1906 - September 14, 1984) was an actress who in 1929 was the first winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress.

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Janet Gaynor

Born Laura Gainor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, her family moved west to San Francisco when she was a child. Upon graduating from high school, Gaynor decided to pursue a career in acting. For two years, she supported herself with odd jobs in Los Angeles while taking minor roles in films. Finally, in 1926, she was cast in the lead role in a silent film called The Johnstown Flood, the same year she was selected as one of the WAMPAS Baby Stars. Her outstanding performance won her the attention of producers, who cast her in a series of films.

Within one year, Gaynor was one of Hollywood's leading ladies. Her performances in Seventh Heaven (the first of twelve movies she would make with Charles Farrell) and both Sunrise and Street Angel (in 1927, also with Charles Farrell) earned her the first Academy Award for Best Actress in 1928. It was the only time in Oscar history that this prestigious award was given for multiple roles. The award was given on the basis of the actor's total work over the year, and not just for one particular performance.

Gaynor was one of only a handful of leading ladies who made a successful transition to sound movies over the next decade. In 1937, she was again nominated for an Academy Award, this time for her role in A Star Is Born. Soon after, she left film for almost twenty years, returning one last time in 1957 in Bernardine. Her departure was in part related to her bisexuality, which made her somewhat of an outcast in Hollywood.

She died in 1984 and was interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

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