HOLLYWOOD DIVA: GRETA GARBO – PART 2
Read the Part 1 of this post clicking here.
Greta Lovisa Gustafsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden on September 18, 1905. She was 14 when her father died, leaving the family destitute. Greta was forced to leave school and go to work in a department store. The store used her for her modeling abilities for newspaper ads. She had no film aspirations until she appeared in an advertising short at that same department store while she was still a teenager. This led to another short film when Erik A. Petschler, a comedy director, saw the film. He gave her a small part in the film, “Luffarpetter” (1922). Encouraged by her own performance she applied for and won a scholarship in a Swedish drama school. While there she appeared in two films, “En lyckoriddare” (1921) and “Luffarpetter” (1922) the following year. Both were small parts, but it was a start.
Finally famed Swedish director, Mauritz Stiller, pulled her from drama school for the leading role in “Gösta Berlings saga” (1924). At 18, Greta was on a roll. Following “The joyless Street” (1925) both Greta and Stiller were offered contracts with MGM. Her first US film was “Torrent” (1926). It was a silent film where she didn’t have to speak a word of English. After a few more films, such as “The Temptress” (1926), “Love” (1927/I), and “A Woman of Affairs” (1928), Greta starred in “Anna Christie” (1930) (her first “talkie”), which not only gave her a powerful screen presence, but also gave her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Unfortunately she didn’t win. Later that year she filmed “Romance” (1930) which was somewhat of a letdown, but bounced back as lead role in “Susan Lenox – Her Fall and Rise” (1931) with Clark Gable. The film was a hit and led to another exciting title role in “Mata Hari” (1931). Greta continued to give intensified performances in whatever was handed her. The next year Greta was cast in another hit “Grand Hotel” (1932).
But it was MGM’s “Anna Karenina” (1935) where she, perhaps, gave the performance of her life. She was absolutely breathtaking in the title role as a woman torn between two lovers and her son. Greta starred in “Ninotchka” (1939) which showcased her comedic side. It wasn’t until two years later she made what was to be her last film that being “Two-Faced Woamn” (1941), another comedy.
After World War II, Greta, by her own admission, felt that the world had changed perhaps forever and she retired, never again to face the camera. She would work for the rest of her life to perpetuate the Garbo mystique. Her films, she felt, had their proper place in history and would gain in value. She abandoned Hollywood and moved to New York City. She would jet-set with some of the world’s best known personalities such as Aristotle Onassis and others. She spent time gardening flowers and vegetables. In 1954, Greta was given a special Oscar for past unforgettable performances. She even penned her biography in 1990. On April 15, 1990, Greta died of natural causes in New York and with it the “Garbo Mystique”. She was 84.
IMDb Mini Biography By: Denny Jackson
THE FILMS OF GRETA GARBO
Mr and Mrs Stockholm Go Shopping (Herrskapet Stockholm ute på inköp, Sweden 1920) – Role: Elder sister, Director: unknown (Garbo’s segment is often known as How Not to Dress).
The Gay Cavalier (En lyckoriddare Sweden 1921) – Role: Maidservant (Uncredit), Director: unknown (the film is lost)
Our Daily Bread (Konsum Stockholm Promo, Sweden 1921) – Role: Companion, Director: unknown.
Peter the Tramp (Luffar-Petter, Sweden 1922) – Role: Greta Pettersson. Director: unknown.
The Saga of Gosta Berling (Gösta Berlings saga, Sweden 1924) – Role: Countess Elisabeth Dohna, Director: Mauritz Stiller.
The Joyless Street (Die freudlose Gasse, Germany 1925) – Role: Greta Rumfort, Director: G. W. Pabst.
The Torrent (USA 1926) – Role: Leonora Moreno aka La Brunna (First American movie; all of Garbo’s American movies were produced by MGM), Director: Monta Bell.
The Temptress (USA 1926) – Role: Elena, Director: Fred Niblo (Mauritz Stiller, Garbo’s Swedish mentor, was originally assigned to direct; his directing methods and personality led to conflicts with MGM producer Irving Thalberg who fired him).
Flesh and the Devil (USA 1926) – Role: Felicitas, Director: Clarence Brown (First of seven Garbo movies directed by Clarence Brown and first of four with co-star John Gilbert).
Love (USA 1927) – Role: Anna Karenina, Director: Edmund Goulding (Adapted from the novel Anna Karenina by Tolstoy).
The Divine Woman (USA 1928) – Role: Marianne, Director: Victor Seastrom (Only a 9 minute reel exists).
The Mysterious Lady (USA 1928) – Role: Tania Fedorova, Director: Fred Niblo.
A Woman of Affairs (USA 1928) – Role: Diana Merrick Furness, Director: Clarence Brown (The first of seven Garbo films with actor Lewis Stone who, with the exception of Wild Orchids, played secondary roles).
Wild Orchids (USA 1929) – Role: Lillie Sterling, Director: Sidney Franklin.
The Single Standard (USA 1929) – Role: Arden Stuart Hewlett, Director: John S. Robertson.
The Kiss (USA 1929) – Role: Madame Irene Guarry, Director: Jacques Feyder (Garbo’s, and MGM’s, last silent picture).
Anna Christie (USA 1930) – Role: Anna Christopherson aka Anna Christie, Director: Clarence Brown (Garbo’s first talkie and first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress).
Romance (USA 1930) – Role: Madame Rita Cavallini, Director: Clarence Brown (Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress).
Anna Christie (Germain 1930) – Role: Anna Christopherson aka Anna Christie, Director: Jacques Feyder (MGM’s German version of Anna Christie was also released in 1930).
Inspiration (USA 1931) – Role: Yvonne Valbret, Director: Clarence Brown
Susan Lenox – Her Fall and Rise (USA 1931) – Helga aka Susan Lennox, Director: Robert Z. Leonard.
Mata Hari (USA 1931) – Role: Mata Hari, Director: George Fitzmaurice.
Grand Hotel (USA 1932) – Role: Madame Grusinskaja aka Elisaveta Alexandrowna Grusinskaja, Director: Edmund Goulding.
As you Desire me (USA 1932) – Role: Zara aka Maria Varelli, Director: George Fitzmaurice.
Queen Christina (USA 1933) – Role: Queen Christina of Sweden, Director: Rouben Mamoulian.
The Painted Veil (USA 1934) – Role: Katrin Koerber Fane, Director: Richard Boleslavski.
Anna Karenina (USA 1935) – Role: Anna Karenina, Director: Clarence Brown (New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress).
Camille (USA 1936) – Role: Marguerite Gautier, Director: George Cukor (New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress, Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress).
Conquest (USA 1937) – Role: Countess Marie Walewska, Director: Clarence Brown.
Ninotchka (USA 1939) – Role: Nina Ivanovna Yakuschowa aka Ninotschka, Director: Ernst Lubitsch (Nominated – Academy Award for Best Actress).
Two-Faced Woman (USA 1941) – Role: Karin Borg Blake, Director: George Cukor (National Board of Review of Motion Pictures Best Acting Award).