Luise Rainer, who left Nazi Germany for Hollywood and soared to fame in the 1930s as the first star to win back-to-back Oscars, then quit films at the peak of her career for occasional stage work and roles as a wife, mother and mountain climber, died on Tuesday at her home in London. She was 104. The cause was pneumonia, Ms. Rainer’s daughter, Francesca Knittel Bowyer, said.
Ms. Rainer was a child of middle-class Jews in Düsseldorf and Hamburg during World War I and came of age in a new Germany of depression, starvation and revolution. Under Max Reinhardt’s direction, she became a young stage and film star in Vienna and Berlin, performing Pirandello and Shaw. She watched the Reichstag burn in 1933 and heard Hitler on the radio. In 1934 an MGM scout signed her to a contract.