Janet Gaynor, who won Hollywood's first Oscar award for best actress, remained in uncertain, dangerous condition yesterday as she fought for her life following an automobile accident Sunday night that also seriously injured Broadway star Mary Martin and killed Martin's manager.
Gaynor, 75, and Martin, 68, were riding in a taxi in San Francisco with Gaynor's husband, producer Paul Gregory, and Martin's long-time manager, Ben Washer.
The taxi was slammed broadside by a van that was driven by a man later charged with drunkenness and reckless driving.
Washer, who was 76, was killed almost instantly when the van hit.
Gaynor was on life-support machines yesterday in an intensive care unit after an operation to repair a punctured bladder and to stop massive bleeding around her right kidney. She also suffered 11 fractured ribs, a broken collarbone and multiple pelvic fractures.
Martin was reported in serious but stable condition yesterday. She had two broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a two broken pelvic bones, a hospital spokesman said. She is still in intensive care, and is expected to be in the hospital another two weeks.
Gregory, 72, was in fair condition with multiple injuries.
Doctors would make no predictions about Gaynor.
"Her prognosis is very guarded," said Dr. Frank Lewis, chief of emergency services at San Francisco General Hospital, meaning that her condition is very serious and the turns it may take are uncertain.
"The outcome in her case will not be decided for many days," Lewis said. "Miss Gaynor is fully conscious. . . . She can't speak" because she is connected to a respirator, which she'll probably need for two or three weeks, he said.
"She had multiple trauma and has needed nine pints of blood and she's likely to need more. In a lady her age, the magnitude of her injuries is very critical," Lewis said.
In 1928 Gaynor became the first recipient of the Academy Award for best actress for her performance in a silent film called "Seventh Heaven."
She made 33 movies in addition to "Seventh Heaven," including the original "A Star Is Born," "Sunrise," "Street Angel," "State Fair," "High Society Blues," "Daddy Longlegs," and "The Farmer Takes A Wife."
Martin was probably best known for her role as Nellie Forbush in the Broadway musical "South Pacific," and her title role in the Broadway play "Peter Pan."
She is now co-host of the PBS series "Over Easy" and is the mother of another star, Larry Hagman, who plays J.R. Ewing in TV's "Dallas" serial. He arrived at the hospital yesterday morning.
Washer, who was dead before reaching the hospital, began his career as a drama editor for the New York World-Telegram and later held a series of publicity posts, including personal representative to film maker Samuel Goldwyn. After working for Paramount Studios, he formed his own publicity agency in 1947.
Gregory, who married Gaynor in 1964, has three broken ribs, kidney bruises and irregular heart rhythm. He is in intensive care, and is listed in fair condition by the hospital.
Both Gregory and Martin were "stable, awake and doing well" yesterday, said Dr. Lewis.
Gaynor and Martin live in Palm Springs, but Martin also has a home in San Francisco that she uses when taping "Over Easy." Gaynor and Gregory had been in San Francisco for a taping session.
The collision occurred just before 8 p.m. Sunday as the four were going to a Chinatown restaurant. The taxi was pushed sideways across the street into a tree.
The five occupants had to be pulled out of the mangled taxi.
Damien Orbea, 25, was walking nearby and witnessed the crash. "When I saw it hit the cab I thought, 'My God, those people don't have a chance,' " he said.
The driver of the van, Robert Cato, 36, of San Francisco, was treated for minor injuries and taken to the city jail. He was charged with vehicular manslaughter, felony reckless driving, speeding, felony drunken driving, and running a red light. He was held in lieu of $3,500 bail.
Ronald Drury, 46, driver of the cab, and John McCue, 30, a passenger in the van, received minor injuries and were treated and released.