Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Star: 54, Luise Rainer

Petra Ecclestone may think she's a star, but to most she's a celebutard.

There are real stars in the Square: Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

Fans still turn up to see where Vivien Leigh lived - marked by a Blue Plaque at number 54 - and beg the porters to let them into the garden opposite to see 'her' bench and leave flowers for her on it. (The 'bench' is  a reassembled marble fireplace.)

Tragic Leigh won two Best Actress Oscars:
for Gone with The Wind (1939) and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).

Fewer know that another double Oscared actress lives in the same building, centenarian Luise Rainer.

The tiny actress, born to a German Jewish family, and a vocal opponent of Hitler, won Best Actress for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937).

We prefer to avoid naming numbers, to preserve residents' privacy, but Miss Rainer's address is widely available on the internet, and she not only loves to receive fan mail but even fans at home for a chat about the old days.

This is a recent photo of Miss Rainer. She can be seen rolling around the neighbourhood most days, and still likes a stiff coffee in the sunshine. Her signature look is pale nudes and pearls, immaculate make-up and always perfect vintage rose nails. And a smile.

An older photo. Miss Rainer moved into the Square soon after being widowed.

She loves to be visited by fans. The following photographs of her flat were taken by one that visited her: HOMESTYLES OF THE RICH & GATED - LUISE RAINER

The entrance hall. The portrait of her grand-daughter is her own work.

In her south-facing study to the rear of the flat.

Chatting on the telephone. Miss Rainer has since, aged a hundred and something, taken up email.

Peach tones are favoured by many older Hollywood leading ladies as they are said to most forgiving.

Her more traditional drawing room at the front. Austrian blinds, brown furniture and fresh freesias are all hallmarks of her generation. As are trinkets picked up from her travels.

Not only does Miss Rainer draw, but she also experiments with collages.

As she was a few years ago, and many years ago.

Another guest. Miss Rainer's housekeeper can be spotted in the background. Whilst some more nouveau residents 'let' their staff live in former coal sheds ... Miss Rainer is a generous employer, and they can be seem out and about in matching vintage Chanel handbags.

Twice an Oscar winner. Always a Lady.