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Janet Gaynor

Janet Gaynor (1906-1984) was an actress and the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. 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. Her outstanding performance won her the attention of producers, who cast her in a series of film.

Within just 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.

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