Laura Augusta Gainor was born on October 6, 1906 to her parents Frank De Witt Gainer and Laura J. Buhl. She was the second child born to Frank and Laura, and was also the last child. Her older sister, Helen, was born in 1903. Her parents had married around 1901 in Philadelphia and each of their daughters was born in the same area. Frank was a theatrical painter and paperhanger, and he taught Laura (nicknamed "Lolly") how to sing, dance, and perform acrobatics. She began acting in school plays in Philadelphia, and when her parents divorced in 1914 (she was 8 years old), her mother, her sister, and Laura moved to Chicago.
Her mother remarried to an electrician by the name of Harry C. Jones in Chicago, and sometime between 1920 and 1923 the "Jones" family moved to San Francisco. Laura graduated from high school in 1923 and vacationed in Florida where she worked on the stage. By the end of 1924, she and the "Jones" family had moved to Los Angeles, and she had secured her first acting job as an extra. And prior to 1927, she was noticed by a major studio (Fox) and they signed her to a five year contract.
She played a number of lead roles, and was generally cast as the wholesome, sweet and pure woman who was very sensitive. By 1929, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, the first one ever awarded, for her role in "Street Angel". That same year, she also married to Jesse Peck, a lawyer. Their marriage lasted 3 years and ended in separation in 1932 and divorce by 1933. The couple had no children together.
"Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Births, 1860-1906," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VBTM-T9D : 10 March 2018), Laura Augusta Gauier, 06 Oct 1906; citing 3904, Department of Records; FHL microfilm 2,129,969.
"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MG77-KFF : accessed 28 July 2018), Laura A Gaines in household of Frank Dew Gaines, Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 420, sheet 3A, family 58, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1395; FHL microfilm 1,375,408.
"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MJ79-B3D : accessed 28 August 2015), Laura A Gainer in household of Laura Gainer, Chicago Ward 25, Cook (Chicago), Illinois, United States; citing sheet 5A, family 118, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,820,342.
"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XCFX-53W : accessed 28 August 2015), Janet Peck in household of Lydell Peck, Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 0820, sheet 15A, family 296, line 32, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 124; FHL microfilm 2,339,859.
"United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/K9H2-XLD : accessed 28 August 2015), Janet Adrian in household of Gilbert Adrian, Councilmanic District 1, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Township, Los Angeles, California, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 60-52, sheet 11B, family 359, NARA digital publication T627 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012), roll 376.