Greta Garbo


Greta Garbo : biography

18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990

Greta also differed from other actors because of her image. After Stiller’s death she had a new agent Harry Eddington, who suggested the star a very extraordinary manner of behaviour. Since then Greta stopped posing to photographers and communicate with press. The star’s private life was locked with many locks, she was taciturn on shootings and concentrated only on work, and soon she was called “sphinx” for that. Nearly indignant producers quickly understood, that this behaviour was an excellent publicity for Garbo, and Greta, who had an unsociable character, liked mysteriousness and scantiness of communication.

Greta Garbo reached the top of popularity in silent films. Appearance of sound damaged many careers of famous stars, and leader of MGM studio were afraid, that viewers wouldn’t welcome speaking “Swedish sphinx”. But their apprehension was unfounded: Greta’s low, passionate voice was full with eroticism. The first sound film with her participation, “Anna Christie”, appeared in 1930, and public welcomed it with delight.

Garbo’s contract finished in 1932, and the new contract was concluded on really breathtaking conditions. Now Greta got two hundred and fifty thousand dollars for one film and had a right to choose a script, a role, partners, and even a director. Besides, the actress allowed herself any caprices in front of the camera. For example, when she was playing in difficult emotional scenes, she was shot beside folding screens, demanding that no stranger person should see her – and she considered a director to be a stranger too…

In 1934 Robert Mamulyan, a pupil of Vakhtangov himself and one of the most outstanding American directors, made a film “Queen Christina” with Garbo in a main role. The image of Swedish queen gave the actress a possibility to show all sides of her dramatic talent, finally departing from the pattern of a fatal beauty. Besides, she used power of the new contract and demanded to make her partner not the most famous actor Laurence Olivier, who was already approved for that role, but a half-forgotten John Gilbert. This attempt to recover the career of her former beloved half-succeeded: film got excellent critic reviews, but didn’t return fame to Gilbert – by that time John was already suffering from alcoholism and two years later he died.

Garbo never got married, though she had a lot of opportunities. In 1937 the actress fell in love with a conductor Leopold Stokowski, and he reciprocated her feelings. But she didn’t accept his proposal, and she said to journalists, that it was even funny for her to think that she was able to get married.

She was attributed to have many affairs, even with women. One of Greta’s admirers, Edgar Donn, was in love with the actress without seeing, and repeatedly tried to meet her, she he didn’t manage to see his beloved in reality. Single-acting, but great love made him leave by will all his property to Greta Garbo. After Donn’s death, in 1946, his lawyers with enormous difficulty managed to contact with the actress, and she received her inheritance and immediately gave it to charitable Mercy Fund.

By the beginning of 40-s Greta Garbo had become a very rich woman. She possessed the biggest part of a famous shopping mall in Beverly-Hills, several houses in Sweden in New-York, luxurious collection of paintings. Her artistic success was also impressive – among directors, which had shot her, were names of Ernst Lubitsch and George Cukor. Lubitsch helped Greta, who was already sick with tragedy and melodramatic roles, to try herself in comedy style. A film “Ninotchka” appeared on screens in 1939 and it was the last success of the great actress. She didn’t manage to break the image of a fatal woman once and for all.

The film, which finished an actor way of Greta Garbo, was made by George Cukor. It was a comedy melodrama “Two-faced Woman”, which appeared in 1941. It was taken very coldly by critics and viewers. A downfall in distribution concurred with the death of Greta’s mother. After that Greta announced her producers, that she wanted to stay alone and nobody in Hollywood know nothing about her after that – on the top of her career the brightest Hollywood star, which was in the prime of beauty and fame, left cinema forever. And the reason of this decision wasn’t a failed film – Greta used it as a cause to stop playing. Childish dreams about the stage, once realized, didn’t bring her happiness – as Garbo herself admitted, she never felt as a real actress, hated her work and didn’t manage to enter Hollywood life.