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Creator: Greta Garbo
"I want to be alone."
— Garbo in Grand Hotel

Greta Garbo (1905-1990) was one of Hollywood's most famous sex symbols during the late silent era and The Thirties. She was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in Stockholm, Sweden, the third and last child of a poor day laborer and his wife. Her first acting job was in an advertisement when she was fifteen years old. After going to drama school, she got her first big break when she landed the female lead in Swedish film The Saga of Gösta Berling. She came to the attention of MGM head Louis B. Mayer, who was enchanted, signed her to a film contract, and brought her to America.

Garbo spoke no English when she came to Hollywood but in the silent movie era this didn't pose a problem. She became an instant star—in her second film for MGM she got top billing. Her European sensuality was a revelation to American film audiences. Her career, however, was threatened by talking pictures, which sent several other European actors and actresses back home. MGM delayed her talking debut as long as they could; the last silent picture MGM ever made, The Kiss (1929), was a Garbo vehicle. Her first talking feature, Anna Christie, was marketed with the tagline "GARBO TALKS!" It was a smash hit, and Garbo continued to be hugely popular throughout The Thirties, playing the same kinds of roles she had in the silent era, as femme fatales or tragic lovers. Her Playing Against Type romatic comedy role in Ninotchka (1939) was another huge success, but she only made one more film. Various projects were proposed throughout The Forties but nothing came to fruition and Garbo eventually decided to retire from acting.

She gained a reputation as a recluse, but in fact she had an active social life and plenty of friends. When she was a huge movie star she had avoided the media, virtually never giving interviews or showing up for award ceremonies, and in retirement she continued to not talk to the press. She died of pneumonia and kidney failure in 1990.


Greta Garbo films on TV Tropes:

MC GaineyActorsJorge Garcia

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