Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo

Infobox actor
name = Greta Garbo

imagesize = 250px
caption = photo by Arnold Genthe, 1925
birthname = Greta Lovisa Gustafsson
birthdate = birth date|df=yes|1905|09|18
location = Stockholm, Sweden
deathdate = death date and age|df=yes|1990|04|15|1905|09|18
deathplace = New York City, New York
yearsactive = 1920 - 1941
occupation = actress
academyawards = Academy Honorary Award
1955 Lifetime Achievement
awards = NYFCC Award for Best Actress
1935 "Anna Karenina"
1936 "Camille"
Walk of Fame - Motion Picture
6901 Hollywood Blvd

Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990) was a Swedish-American actress during Hollywood's silent film period and part of its Golden Age.

Regarded as one of the greatest and most inscrutable movie stars ever produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the Hollywood studio system, Garbo received a 1954 Honorary Oscar "for her unforgettable screen performances"cite press release
title = Academy to Celebrate Greta Garbo Centennial
publisher = Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
date=11 March 2005
url =
accessdate =
] and in 1999 was ranked as the fifth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. [cite web | url = | title = AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars | publisher = American Film Institute | accessdate = ]

Early life

Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in Stockholm, Sweden, the youngest of three children of Karl Alfred Gustafsson (1871–1920) and Anna Lovisa Johansson (1872–1944). [ [] "" Retrieved on ] Garbo's older sister and brother were Sven Alfred (1898–1967) and Alva Maria (1903–1926).

Becoming an actress

When Garbo was 14 years old, her father, to whom she was extremely close, died. She was forced to leave school and go to work. Her first job was as a soap-lather girl in a barbershop. She stated in the book "Garbo On Garbo" (p. 33) that her relationship with her mother was not strained.

She then became a clerk at the department store PUB in Stockholm, where she would also model for newspaper advertisements. Her first motion picture aspirations came when she appeared in two short film advertisements (the first for the department store where she worked). They were eventually seen by comedy director Erik Arthur Petschler and he gave her a part in his upcoming film "Peter the Tramp" (1922).

From 1922 to 1924, Garbo studied at the prestigious Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. While there, she met director Mauritz Stiller. He trained her in cinema acting technique, gave her the stage name "Greta Garbo", and cast her in a major role in the silent film "Gösta Berlings Saga" (English: "The Story of Gösta Berling") in 1924, a dramatization of the famous novel by Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf. She starred in "Gösta Berling" opposite Swedish film actor Lars Hanson, then appeared in the German film "Die Freudlose Gasse" ("The Street Of Sorrow", 1925), directed by G. W. Pabst and co-starring Asta Nielsen.

She and Stiller were brought to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by Louis B. Mayer when "Gösta Berlings Saga" caught his attention. On viewing the film during a visit to Berlin, Mayer was impressed with Stiller's direction, but was much more taken with Garbo's acting and screen presence. According to Mayer's daughter, Irene Mayer Selznick, with whom he screened the film, it was the gentle feeling and expression that emanated from her eyes which so impressed her father.

Unfortunately, her relationship with Stiller came to an end as her fame grew and he struggled in the studio system. He was fired by MGM and returned to Sweden in 1928, where he died soon after. Garbo was also close friends with Einar Hanson, a Swedish actor who worked with her and Pabst on "The Street Of Sorrow", and then came to Hollywood to work at MGM and Paramount Pictures. Einar Hanson was killed in an auto accident in 1927, after leaving a dinner with Garbo and Stiller. Garbo's sister Alva died of cancer in 1926 at the age of 23 after appearing in one feature film in Sweden, adding to the melancholy Garbo felt at being in Hollywood. MGM refused to allow Garbo to return to Sweden for her sister's funeral, and Garbo was only able to return to Sweden for a visit in 1928.

Life in Hollywood

The most important of Garbo's silent movies were "The Temptress" (1926), "Flesh and the Devil" (1926), and "Love" (1927). She starred in the latter two with the popular leading man John Gilbert. Her name was linked with his in a much publicized romance, and she was said to have left him standing at the altar in 1926, when she changed her mind about getting married. ["Garbo" by Barry Paris, pp 124-125]

Having achieved enormous success as a silent movie star, she was one of the few actors who made the transition to talkies, though she delayed the shift for as long as possible. Her film "The Kiss" (1929) was the last film MGM made without dialogue (it used a soundtrack with music and sound effects only).

Her voice was first heard on screen in Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" (1930), which was publicized with the slogan "Garbo Talks". The movie was a huge success. In 1931 Garbo made a German version of the movie.

Garbo appeared as the World War I spy "Mata Hari" (1931). She was next part of an all-star cast in "Grand Hotel" (1932) in which she played a Russian ballerina.

She then had a contract dispute with MGM. She signed a new contract in July 1932, departing for Sweden later the same month. She exercised her new control by having her leading man in "Queen Christina" (1933), Laurence Olivier, replaced with Gilbert. In 1935, David O. Selznick wanted her cast as the dying heiress in "Dark Victory", but she insisted on doing Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina". Bette Davis would eventually play the Judith Trahenre role in "Dark Victory" and score her third Oscar nomination.

Her role as the doomed courtesan in "Camille" (1936), directed by George Cukor, would be regarded by Garbo as her finest acting performance. She then starred opposite Melvyn Douglas in "Ninotchka" (1939), directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

Garbo was nominated for an Academy Award for "Anna Christie" (1930), "Romance" (1930), "Camille" (1937) and "Ninotchka" (1939).

Garbo received praise from many fellow actors:

During Garbo's Hollywood career, she was caricatured in the Warner Bros. cartoons "Porky's Road Race", "Speaking of the Weather" (both directed by Frank Tashlin) and "Hollywood Steps Out" (directed by Tex Avery).

Later career

"Ninotchka" was a successful attempt at lightening Garbo's image and making her less exotic, by the insertion of a scene in a restaurant in which her character breaks into uninhibited laughter which provided the film with its famous tagline, "Garbo laughs!". The follow-up film, "Two-Faced Woman" (1941), attempted to capitalize by casting Garbo in a romantic comedy, where she played a double role that featured her dancing, and tried to make her into "an ordinary girl". The film, directed by George Cukor, was a critical (though not a commercial) failure. It was Garbo's last official screen appearance.

It is often reported that Garbo chose to retire from cinema after this film's failure, but already by 1935 she was becoming more choosy about her roles, and eventually years passed without her agreeing to do another film. By her own admission, Garbo felt that after World War II the world changed, perhaps forever.

In 1941, MGM costume-designer Adrian also left the studio, later saying:

:"It was because of Garbo that I left MGM. In her last picture they wanted to make her a sweater girl, a real American type. I said, 'When the glamour ends for Garbo, it also ends for me. She has created a type. If you destroy that illusion, you destroy her.' When Garbo walked out of the studio, glamour went with her, and so did I."Fact|date=February 2007

In 1949, Garbo filmed several screen tests as she considered reentering the movie business to shoot "La Duchesse de Langeais" directed by Walter Wanger; otherwise she never stepped in front of a movie camera again. The plans for this film collapsed when financing failed to materialize, and these tests were lost for 40 years, before resurfacing in someone's garage. [ [,,11069-1742796,00.html,,11069-1742796,00.html] "" Retrieved on ] They were included in the 2005 TCM documentary "Garbo", [ [] "" Retrieved on ] and show her still radiant at age 43. [ [] "" Retrieved on ] There were suggestions that she might appear as the "Duchess de Guermantes" in a film adaptation of Marcel Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" but this never came to fruition. She was offered many roles over the years, but always turned them down.

Her last interview was probably with the celebrated entertainment writer Paul Callan of the London "Daily Mail" during the Cannes Film Festival. Meeting at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc, Callan began "I wonder . . ", before Garbo cut in with "Why wonder?", and stalked off, making it one of the shortest interviews ever published.

She gradually withdrew from the entertainment world and moved to a secluded life in New York City, refusing to make any public appearances. Up until her death, Garbo sightings were considered sport for paparazzi photographers. In 1974, pornographic filmmaker Peter De Rome tracked Garbo across New York and shot unauthorized footage of her for inclusion in his X-rated feature "Adam & Yves". [ [ "Adam & Yves," Chicago Free Press] ]

Despite these attempts to flee from fame, she was nevertheless voted Best Silent Actress of the Century (her compatriot Ingrid Bergman winning the Best Sound Actress) in 1950, and was also designated as the most beautiful woman who ever lived by the Guinness Book of World Records. [ [ Garbo's lonely legacy: Seeking the actress's final resting place ] ] [ [ The Epoch Times | Greta Garbo Returns ] ] [ [ Slant Magazine - DVD Review: Garbo – The Signature Collection ] ] [ [ Greta Garbo - Biography ] ]

Private life

Garbo was considered one of the most glamorous movie stars of the 1920s and 1930s. She was also famous for shunning publicity, which became part of her mystique. Except at the very beginning of her career, she granted no interviews, signed no autographs, attended no premieres, and answered no fan mail.

Her famous byline was always said to be, "I want to be alone," spoken with a heavy accent which made the word "want" sound like "vont." This quote as noted comes from her role in "Grand Hotel". However, Garbo later commented, "I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be "let" alone.' There is all the difference." This byline was referenced in the movie "Death Becomes Her", where it was used in a comedic way, implying that Garbo had taken the eternally young potion used in the movie plot.

Garbo kept her private affairs out of the public domain. According to private letters released in Sweden in 2005 to mark the centenary of her birth, she was reclusive in part because she was "self-obsessed, depressive, and ashamed of her latrine-cleaner father." [ [,6903,1567211,00.html,6903,1567211,00.html] "" Retrieved on ]

Her most famous sexual relationship — but not her only such relationship — was with actor John Gilbert. They starred together for the first time in the classic "Flesh and the Devil" in 1926. Their on-screen "erotic intensity" [ [] "" Retrieved on ] soon translated into an off-camera romance, and by the end of production Garbo had moved in with Gilbert. Gilbert is said to have proposed to Garbo at least three times. [ [] "" Retrieved on ] She reportedly wanted to quit films if they married, but Gilbert wanted her to continue her career. When a marriage was finally arranged in 1926, she failed to show up at the ceremony. [ [] "" Retrieved on ] After their affair ended, Garbo showed great loyalty to Gilbert after his career collapsed with the coming of sound films, and insisted that he appear with her in 1933's "Queen Christina" despite the objection of MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer.

The 1995 biography "Garbo" by Barry Paris relates Garbo's relationships - which were often just close friendships - with actor George Brent, conductor Leopold Stokowski, nutritionist (and gay man) Gayelord Hauser, and her manager George Schlee, husband of designer Valentina.

In 1931, Garbo met and quickly befriended Mercedes de Acosta. The two were introduced to one another by de Acosta's close friend, author Salka Viertel, who was also very close to Garbo and wrote the screenplay for several of Garbo's films. Her relationship with Garbo has often been described as "the love of her lifetime". From all information from the time, it is unlikely that Garbo shared those feelings. Garbo was in control of the friendship, which was close for about a year from 1931 to 1932.

But thereafter, theirs was a vacillating relationship, with Garbo even ignoring de Acosta -everything was at the will of Garbo. Estranged by 1937, in 1944, Garbo insisted de Acosta stop sending her poems and letters professing her love. The last known poem of hers for Garbo was written that same year. Their relationship finally ended when De Acosta wrote about her lesbian affairs in the autobiography "Here Lies the Heart" (1960).

ecluded retirement

Garbo felt her movies had their proper place in history and would gain in value. On 9 February 1951, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States. In 1954 she was awarded a special Academy Award.

In 1953, she bought a seven-room apartment in New York City at 450 East 52nd Street, where she lived for the rest of her life.

She would at times jet-set with some of the world's best known personalities such as Aristotle Onassis and Cecil Beaton, but chose to live a private life. She was known for taking long walks through the New York streets dressed casually and wearing large sunglasses, always avoiding prying eyes, the paparazzi, and media attention. Garbo did, however, receive one last flurry of publicity when nude photos, taken with a long-range lens, were published in "People" in 1976. Trim and relaxed, she was enjoying a swim.

Garbo lived the last years of her life in absolute seclusion. She had invested very wisely, particularly in commercial property along Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, was known for extreme frugality, and was very wealthy.

She died in New York Hospital on 15 April 1990, aged 84, as a result of pneumonia and renal failure, which had shut down her stomach and kidneys. She had previously been operated on and treated for breast cancer, which required a partial mastectomy, from which she recovered. Fact|date=October 2007

She was cremated and her ashes were finally interred after a long legal battle at the Skogskyrkogården Cemetery in her native Stockholm. She left her entire estate, estimated at $20,000,000 USD to her niece, Gray Reisfield of New Jersey.

For her contributions to cinema, she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6901 Hollywood Boulevard. In addition, in September 2005, the United States Postal Service and Swedish Posten jointly issued two commemorative stamps bearing her likeness. [cite press release
title=Greta Garbo Has Starring Role on U.S. Postal Stamp |publisher=United States Postal Service |date=2005-09-25
url= |accessdate=2008-07-09
quote=...the U.S. Postal Service and Sweden Post jointly issued two commemorative postage stamps bearing her likeness. Both stamps, issued near what would have been her 100th birthday, are engravings based on a 1932 photograph....
] [cite journal
author=ed. William J. Gicker |year=2006 |title=Greta Garbo 37¢ |format=print |journal=USA Philatelic |volume=11 |issue=3 |pages=12
url= |accessdate=2008-07-09



Further reading

*Barry Paris, "Garbo", New York, USA, Knopf, 1995
*Rilla Page Palmborg, " [ The Private Life of Greta Garbo] New York, USA, Doubleday, Doran, Garden, 1931
*Diana McLellan "The Girls : Sappho Goes to Hollywood", New York, USA, St. Martin's Press, 2000
*Diana Souhami "Greta and Cecil", London, England, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2000
*Sven-Hugo Borg, " [ The Only True Story of Greta Garbo’s Private Life] London, England, Amalgamated Press Ltd, © 1933
*John Bainbridge "Garbo", New York, USA, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1971

External links

* [ Greta Garbo at the Royal Acting School]
* [ Greta Garbo at All Movie Guide]
*imdb name | id=1256 | name=Greta Garbo
*tcmdb name | id=68274 | name = Greta Garbo
* [ Greta Garbo Biography - Yahoo! Movies]
* [ GarboForever - The Legend Lives On]

NAME= Garbo, Greta
ALTERNATIVE NAMES= Gustafsson, Greta Lovisa
DATE OF BIRTH= 18 September 1905
PLACE OF BIRTH= Stockholm, Sweden
DATE OF DEATH= 15 April 1990

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Greta Garbo — Greta Garbo, Deutsche Briefmarke, 2001 Greta Garbo (* 18. September 1905 in Stockholm als Greta Lovisa Gustafsson; † 15. April 1990 in New York) war eine schwedische Filmschauspielerin. Greta Garbo übernahm vor allem Ende der 20er und in den 30er …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Greta Garbo — en 1931. Données clés Nom de naissance Greta Lovi …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Greta Garbo — en 1932. Nombre real Greta Lovisa Gustafsson Nacimiento 18 de septiembre de 1905 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Greta Garbo — (18 de septiembre de 1905 15 de abril de 1990) actriz de cine sueca. Nació en Estocolmo (Suecia), con el nombre de Greta Lovisa Gustafsson. Epecialmente conocida con el apodo de La divina o la mujer que no ríe debido al rictus serio de su rostro …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Greta Garbo — noun United States film actress (born in Sweden) known for her reclusiveness (1905 1990) • Syn: ↑Garbo, ↑Greta Louisa Gustafsson • Instance Hypernyms: ↑actress * * * Greta Garbo [ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Greta Garbo — ➡ Garbo * * * …   Universalium

  • Greta Garbo — Greta Gustafson …   Eponyms, nicknames, and geographical games

  • Greta Garbo — …   Википедия

  • Greta Garbo — nach der beruhmten Schauspielerin benannter, doppelgeschoteter großer Vierkantkluver (Benutzung bei der J Klasse – große Rennyacht) …   Maritimes Wörterbuch

  • Greta Garbo — n. (1905 1990) Swedish born American actress …   English contemporary dictionary

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