1983 was a busy year for Luise who had made a concerted effort to move back into the limelight. With very little public activity in the 1970s the beginning of next decade saw Luise return to the stage in the US, a decision which appears to have been the catalyst for renewed interest in her career.
In 1981 she took her one-woman show Enoch Arden to Massachusetts, and towards the end of 1982 she returned to the east coast as an honouree for the George Eastman Award for Distinguished Contribution to Film. In April 1983 Luise was a guest at a special pre-Oscars celebration held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), and she presented the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars ceremony two days layer – this was her first appearance at the Academy Awards ceremony since 1953.
Luise returned to California in October 1983 to present her Enoch Arden for the final time at UCLA. It was on this visit that the Academy once again honoured her with A Salute to Luise Rainer, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, Beverly Hills, on Wednesday 12 October.
Presented by The Academy, the evening included films clips from five of Luise’s MGM films: The Great Waltz, Big City, The Toy Wife, The Emperor’s Candlesticks and The Great Ziegfeld. Luise was interviewed between these excerpts by Robert Osborne – they would repeat their meeting 27 years when Luise was a guest at the TCM Classic Film Festival in 2010. The evening ended with a screening of her second Oscar-winning turn in The Good Earth (1937).
The programme notes (below) are of interest; they reiterate the false claim that Luise was born in Vienna, not in Germany (the MGM publicity machine really did a great job with that one, still circulating 50 years later). It also mentions Luise’s film output made in Europe before she emigrated to Hollywood; these are usually omitted from her story. The short text also alludes to Katharine Hepburn’s second Oscar win in 1967, although doesn’t mention her by name: “No other actress equaled this feat until 1967.”
I am indebted to Richard McLeod for his help and reminiscence about this event (and for the copy of his ticket stub, and programme notes).