First back-to-back Oscar winner Luise Rainer dies at 104 | EW.com

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First back-to-back Oscar winner Luise Rainer dies at 104

Luise Rainer

(George Hurrell/MGM/Margaret Chute/Getty Images)

Luise Rainer—who won Best Actress Oscars for her 1936 and 1937 films, The Great Ziegfeld and The Good Earth —has died at the age of 104. According to the Associated Press, her daughter Francesca Knittel Bowyer confirmed that Rainer died from pneumonia on Tuesday at her home in London. 

“Though fragile as a hummingbird she was strong as an ocean storm,” Bowyer wrote in a statement emailed to EW. ”She left with grace and peace after battling pneumonia. She leaves her indelible print on her profession and all those who touched her.”

Rainer became the first person to win Oscars in consecutive years. ”At the time that I received them, I did not really know their importance,” she told EW in 2012. “I was just a few years in America. I only understood what Oscars meant much, much later. The ceremony was far less elaborate in my time than it is now.” According to EW, a fight with her then-husband, playwright Clifford Odets, almost caused her to skip the 1938 ceremony. She later married publisher Robert Knittel.

Despite her early successes, Rainer’s film career was not extensive: She battled with MGM’s Louis B. Mayer and broke her contract with the studio. “He said, ‘If you leave now, you will never work in this town again. We made you, we’re gonna break you,’” Bowyer told EW. ”And she said, ‘Mr. Mayer, God made me, and long after you’re dead I will still be alive.’ She walked out.”

Rainer did continue working, however, and even appeared in a 1984 episode of The Love Boat.

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