Greta Garbo

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Greta Garbo : biography

18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990

When she left the stage, Greta Garbo turned into a shadow of a great actress, but she never regretted it – she was rich, independent and loved loneliness. Of course, she didn’t manage to hide from the world completely – journalists were after a former celebrity till her death. Greta communicated with a very narrow group of people, but there were a baron Erick Rothschild-Goldschmidt, a prince Zigward, Winston Churchill, Aristotelis Onassis, a famous photographer Cecil Beaton. The closest friend of Greta Garbo, Kerstin Bernadotte, was a wife of a Swedish prince. After close communication with Valentina Sanina, who was an owner of a model house “Valentina” in 40-s, Sanina’s husband George Schlee, “a paper king”, entered Greta’s life for long twenty years. She passed him a right to be in charge of her finances, and Schlee left Greta the lion’s share of his fortune by will, but she didn’t need it actually.

The actress devoted much time to travelling, she visited not only European countries, but Africa and Asia. After the war till 1953 she lived in Europe, and then returned to New York. A year later she was awarded with the first “Oscar” in her life (a nomination “an outstanding contribution to art”), but she didn’t consider it necessary to attend the ceremony. For forty nine years outside cinema world she didn’t give even single interview and never appeared in a public event. Actress’s disapproval of her “starness” was confirmed with a legendary story, which happened during one of the cruises over Mediterranean sea. One of the passengers presented her a book about her life, which had been just published – and the actress, after murmuring words of gratitude, threw the book out in the sea.

In time Greta’s New York apartment turned into a true museum of antiques, but she kept paintings packed in boxes. And she never used antique furniture, preferring to sleep on a simple modern bed. A former celebrity didn’t nourish a passion for costumes – she dressed very simply, and often wore a men’s coat and a long scarf and hide her face under sunglasses and a hat, pulled over her eyes when going to afoot walking. She called her life history a history of secret ways out and other methods of staying unrecognized.

In 1987 Greta didn’t come out from her apartment, and in 1988 she endured a heart attack. The great actress died two years later, in 1990, on the 15th of April. The reason of her death was never announced, but it seemed to consist in failing kidneys. On the next day after death Greta Garbo’s body was cremated according to her will and was going to be transported to Sweden, but an urn with actress’s ashes stayed in New York funeral office for ten years. Judicial litigations were finished only in 2000. A big crowd was waiting on the cemetery for their great compatriot’s remains – but they waited in vain. Following some impulse (or perhaps knowing Greta’s character) her niece, who inherited aunt’s fortune, decided to fix a different date, and after announcing a new date she buried the remains of the actress on the next morning, alone.