Actress. Born Laura Gainor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1906, she attended high school in San Francisco and soon found work in films, her passion. She moved to Los Angeles shortly after graduation, supporting herself through odd jobs while appearing as an extra in small pictures. This led her to some bit parts for director Hal Roach in comedy shorts and a later, in a larger two-reel western. Signed to a contract by Fox Movie Studios, she had her first important role in "The Johnstown Flood" (1926). She soon went on to appear in two successful films, F. W. Murnau's expressionist masterpiece "Sunrise" and Frank Borzage's hit "Seventh Heaven" (both 1927), as a result, within a year she was Fox's biggest star. At the first Academy Awards ceremony held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel ballroom, she won the very first "Best Actress" Oscar for her work in several films in 1927-28. Considered to have a charming, sweet and gentle voice that was ideally suited to early talkies, she made the transition to the sound era without a problem. Paired with romantic idol Charles Farrell, their popularity as a team was acknowledged when they were called "America's Favorite Lovebirds." She was honored at 14th ceremony at Graumans Chinese Theater on May 29, 1929 when she was asked to put her hand and footprints in cement in the forecourt. Janet Gaynor was Hollywood's top box-office attraction in the early 1930s. In her most famous role she played ‘Esther Victoria Blodgett’ in "A Star is Born" (1937), where she echoed her own struggle to become a movie star in the film. She retired from the screen 2 years later in 1939, about the time she married Hollywood's most famous costume designer, Adrian, and much of her later years were spent in Brazil at their ranch. Adrian died in 1959 and she married producer Paul Gregory in 1964. She also took up painting, and in 1976 her works were exhibited in a New York gallery. In the early 1980s she was riding in a taxicab in San Francisco with her friend, actress Mary Martin and Ms. Martin's assistant Ben Washer, when a car driven by an drunk driver plowed into them at the intersection of Franklin and California Streets. Mr. Washer was killed, and Janet and Mary were seriously injured. Mary recovered, but Janet later died in September 1984 in Palm Springs from Pneumonia and injuries she never recovered from. She was buried next to her first husband, Adrian.
Bio by: Christian