Classic Movie Hub (CMH)
 
 

Job Actress
Years active 1920-1941
Known for Intensely private person
Top Roles Mata Hari, Diana Merrick Furness, Grusinskaya, Irene Guarry, Felicitas von Rhaden
Top GenresDrama, Romance, Silent Films, Film Adaptation, Comedy, Biographical
Top TopicsPre-Code Cinema, Based on Play, Book-Based
Top Collaborators (Producer), (Director), ,
Shares birthday with Eddie Anderson, Frankie Avalon, Rossano Brazzi  see more..

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Greta Garbo Overview:

Legendary actress, Greta Garbo, was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on Sep 18, 1905 in Stockholm, Sweden. Garbo appeared in over 30 films and shorts. Her best known films include Anna Christie, Mata Hari, Grand Hotel, Queen Christina, Anna Karenina, Camille and Ninotchka. Garbo died at the age of 84 on Apr 15, 1990 in New York City, NY and was laid to rest in Skogskyrkogården (The Woodland Cemetery) in Enskede, Stockholms Lan, Sweden.

Early Life

Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905 in Stockholm, Sweden. Her early life was far removed from the glitz and glamour she would become renown for as she was raised in a poor working class family in the slums of Stockholm. She described her early childhoods as grey, gloomy, and anxiety ridden. Her father worked as an unskilled general laborer, taking any job that came his way and her mother worked in a factory. Despite the two incomes, Garbo and her siblings still grew up in near poverty. It was perhaps due to these early life struggles that Garbo had dreams of acting.  Although Garbo was an intensely shy child, she was also fiercely imaginative. She and a group of friends would often band together to put on amateur plays for an audience of family members. In 1919 tragedy struck the already struggling Gustafsson family when their father became ill with the flu. Because of this Garbo was forced to quit school and began talking him to his weekly hospital treatments. He died a year later. After her father's death, Garbo joined the work force to help feed her family. The fact that she never received a proper education was always a source of shame for Garbo. Soon, she began to work as soap-lather girl in a barbershop.

Early Career

In 1921 she began working at Department store in Stockholm. Soon after she began modeling hats for the store catalog, eventually leading to booking more lucrative jobs in the fashion Industry and advisement shorts. It was in 1922 that film director Erik Arthur Petchler noticed the young model and cast her in the comedy short, Peter the Tramp. That year Garbo began attending The Royal Dramatic Theatre's Acting School in Stockholm. Thanks to a state sponsored scholarship, Garbo's childhood dreams of the theatre were finally becoming a reality and studied there for two years. In 1924 director Maurtiz Stiller cast her in the lead in the adaptation of the Selma Lagerof novel, The Saga of Gosta Berling. Soon, Stiller began mentoring Garbo in her career, glamorizing her screen image and managing her career. For her next role, the young actress traveled south to Germany to star in the G.W Post Dir freudlose Gasse. The film was hit and so was Garbo, now considered a rising star in Germany. The next year, MGM Studio Head Louis B. Mayer arrived in Europe. As the legend goes, He crossed the Atlantic with hopes of signing Stiller to MGM but still would agree under one condition: Garbo come along. After seeing Dir freudlose Gasse, Meyer saw the potential, and agreed to sign both Stiller and Garbo. The then bought their passage to the United States in 1925.

Hollywood and Silent film

When Stiller and Garbo finally arrived in New York, they heard nothing from MGM. The duo eventually headed West on their own volition. Although she found no parts awaiting her when she reached Hollywood, Garbo immediately had her teeth straightened and was told to lose some weight. Finally, in 1926, Garbo starred in her first American film, The Torrent, directed by Monta Bell and not by Stiller, as the two had expected. The film was a hit and audiences everywhere fell in love with the mysterious young actress. Despite the critical acclaim and commercial success, Garbo was unsatisfied with the fact that Stiller was the director. With her next film, The Temptress, not only was Stiller assigned as the director, but she was also given first billing. When filming actually began, however, Garbo would have quite the daunting experience. Due to his weak grasp of the English language and disagreements with the films leading man, Antonio Moreno, Stiller was soon dismissed of his directorial duties. Garbo was reported unhappy with playing yet another '"vamp," wanting to stretch her acting skills beyond that particular characterization. During filming, she was also informed her sister, Alva, had died of leukemia. Due to her hectic schedule, she was unable to attend her sister's funeral. Despite on set politics and Garbo's general unhappiness, the film was a hit with critics and audiences alike. Because the film went so over budget and required multiple re-shoots, the film actually lost money, despite making almost a million at the box-office. Still, with her rave reviews, MGM understood it had major star in their hands.

Hollywood Stardom

After the Success The Temptress, Garbo was assigned yet another vamp character in the Clarence Brown romantic drama, Flesh and the Devil opposite John Gilbert. Soon after filming began, it became apparent the two leads had a chemistry that extended beyond the set. The two soon began one of Hollywood's most tawdry love affairs. The film was a major hit, with much of its success going to the chemistry of Garbo and Gilbert. After completing the films hectic shooting schedule, Garbo understood her worth as star felt under appreciated and went on strike, demanding a new contract. She even threatening to leave for Sweden should MGM not accommodate her demands. The studio was initially hesitant to give into the actress's demands, however, after Flesh and the Devil became a huge hit both critically and commercially; the studio had no choice but to offer the star a new contact. Not only did the actress receive a huge pay raise but also more creative control over her film's scripts, screws and, sometimes, even choice of director.

Her next eight film were all a success, three of them co-starring leading man John Gilbert.  Their romance would continue their romantic chemistry extended beyond the silver screen. MGM, understanding their intrigue as public figures, capitalized their off-screen romance and cast them in 1927's Love.  The next year the couple starred in A woman of Affairs and soon Garbo became the top-ranking box-office star in Hollywood. During this time, Garbo also began making more on-set demands. She would require closed sets, even keeping the largest of studio brass from distracting her from her work. Because of bankability at the box-office, however, no one dared deny her demands.

Transition to talkies

As the era of talkies was usher in, studio heads were worried Garbo's thick accent and heavy voice would not register well with American audiences. As a result she was the last MGM star to make the transition. Her first Talkie, Anna Christie, was advertized with the slogan "Garbo Talk's" and put MGM's fears to rest. The film was a hit, earning a huge profit for MGM and an Oscar nomination for Garbo. She received another nomination or next film, Romance. In 1931, she starred in Susan Lenox (Her Rise and Fall) and the title role in Mata Hari opposite Ramon Novarro. The latter film was a huge commercial hit, netting almost one million dollars for MGM studios and would be Garbo's biggest financial success of her career. The next year she took the role of despondent Russian Ballerina in the star-studded, Grand Hotel. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture despite having no other Oscar nominations that year.  Her next role as the fictional Swedish monarch in 1933's Queen Christina remains one of her most popular today. She earned a third Oscar Nomination for her role as the doomed social companion in 1936's Camille. With the utter failure of her 1937 film Conquest, it appeared Garbo star appeared to be on the decline. When she was included on the" box-office poison" list, the decline was solidified. Hoping to change her cool, enigmatic image, "Garbo Laugh's" was the tagline of her next first comedy, Ernst Lubitsch's Ninotchka. In the film, Garbo plays a serious and dour Soviet envoy that falls for Parisian playboy, Melvyn Douglas.  The film was a success both critically and commercially, demonstrating Garbo's  gift for comedy as well as drama.  For this new acting direction, Garbo received another Academy Award nomination. Her final film was 1942's, Two-faced Woman, directed by George Cukor. In 1942, she retired from the acting world, never to return. She was 36

Later Career

Even during her career, Garbo was an intensely private person. She refused interviews, autographs, avoided Hollywood social functions and refused to do publicity stunts for the Studios. This did not change in retirement. Having vowed as child to never live in poverty again, upon retirement Garbo was a millionaire, never needing to act or work to maintain her opulent lifestyle. She invested her money into real estate and art and was worth over 50 million at the time of her death. She eventually moved to New York to create a new solitary life. Tales of her reclusively have been exaggerated since her death, as famed "Garbo sightings" were frequent near her Upper East Side apartment. She also enjoyed traveling in her old age, always doing so under an assumed name. By the late 1980's Garbo's heath began to fail. She eventually was unable to go out on walks and become more and more withdrawn in her final years. Greta Garbo dies On April 15, 1990 in New York City due to pneumonia and renal failure. She was 84 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).

HONORS and AWARDS:

.

Although Garbo was nominated for three Oscars, she never won a competitive Academy Award. However she won one Honorary Oscar Award in 1954 for her unforgettable screen performances .

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1929/30Best ActressAnna Christie (1930)Anna ChristieNominated
1937Best ActressCamille (1936)Marguerite Gautier (Camille)Nominated
1939Best ActressNinotchka (1939)Lena Yakushova (Ninotchka)Nominated

Academy Awards (Honorary Oscars)

YearAwardDescription
1954Honorary Awardfor her unforgettable screen performances

.

She was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. In addition, Garbo was immortalized on a US postal stamp in 2005.

BlogHub Articles:

Conversations with Classic Film Stars: about and Marilyn Monroe – Exclusive Post by Authors James Bawden and Ron Miller

By Guest Post on Oct 3, 2016 From Classic Movie Hub Blog

THE GOLDEN AGE OF GOSSIP What Legendary Movie Stars Said about Each Other Part Three of a Four-Part Series Melvyn Douglas, who first co-starred with in As You Desire Me [1932], remembered her as “icy and distant.” He also said she had no flair for comedy and believes it was her “humorles... Read full article


Quote of the Week: George Cukor on

By KC on Apr 17, 2016 From Classic Movies

Garbo in 1931 She had a talent that few actresses or actors possess. In close-ups she gave the impression, the illusion of great movement. She would move her head just a little bit and the whole screen would come alive, like a strong breeze that made itself felt. -Director George Cukor, about G... Read full article


TCM SUMMER UNDER THE STARS BLOGATHON: DAY 26: FEATURING

By Crystal Kalyana on Aug 26, 2015 From In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood

Here is my contribution to the TCM Summer Under The Stars Blogathon, hosted by Journey’s In Classic Film. Day 26: Featuring . with her mystique charm, irresistible allure combined with a remarkable presence and celestial beauty has been enthralling audiences for decades ... Read full article


Summer Under the Stars Guide:

By Amanda Garrett on Aug 26, 2015 From Old Hollywood Films

Today's star is the elusive . TCM is celebrating the career of with 13 movies on Aug. 26. Here's what you need to know about this very private actress. FYI: TCM sometimes changes the air times and /or movies, so you can go to www.tcm.com to check the updated schedule. ... Read full article


Summer Under the Stars: Day 26 –

on Aug 26, 2015 From Journeys in Classic Film

 is the star for today! Below, you’ll find links to those participating and honoring Garbo (updated as they come in), as well as my own reviews of her work throughout the years. Phyllis Loves Classic Movies In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood Fill in your details below or click an ... Read full article


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Greta Garbo Quotes:

Marguerite: When one may not have long to live, why shouldn't one have fancies?


Marguerite: Now what shall I give you to remember me by?
Baron de Varville: You can't give me anything I'd like.
Marguerite: What's that?
Baron de Varville: A tear. You're not sorry enough I'm going.
Marguerite: Oh, but I *am* sorry.


Ninotchka: I must have a complete report of your negotiations and a detailed expense account.
Buljanoff: No, non, Ninotchka. Don't ask for it. There's an old Turkish proverb that says: If something smells bad, why put your nose in it?
Ninotchka: And there is an old Russian saying: The cat with cream on his whiskers had better find good excuses.


read more quotes from Greta Garbo...



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Featuring
(1932)
Thu. 12 Oct. 06:00 PM EST

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Honorary Award Oscar 1954


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Greta Garbo on the
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Greta Garbo Facts
Once voted by The Guinness Book of World Records as the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Sister of Sven and Alva.

Before making it big, she worked as a soap-latherer in a barber's shop back in Sweden.

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