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New York, New York
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Claim to Fame
Flesh and the Devil, Anna Christie
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Greta Garbo was a Swedish-born actress during Hollywood`s silent film period and part of its Golden Age.
Regarded as one of the greatest and most inscrutable movie stars ever produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the Hollywood studio system, Garbo received a 1954 Honorary Oscar "for her unforgettable screen performances" and in 1999 was ranked as the fifth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.
Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in Stockholm, Sweden, the youngest of three children of Karl Alfred Gustafsson (1871–1920) and Anna Lovisa Johansson (1872–1944). Garbo`s older sister and brother were Sven Alfred (1898–1967) and Alva Maria (1903–1926).
 Becoming an actress
When Garbo was 14 years old, her father, to whom she was extremely close, died. She was forced to leave school and go to work. Her first job was as a soap-lather girl in a barbershop. She stated in the book Garbo On Garbo (p. 33) that her relationship with her mother was not strained.
She then became a clerk at the department store PUB in Stockholm, where she would also model for newspaper advertisements. Her first motion picture aspirations came when she appeared in two short film advertisements (the first for the department store where she worked). They were eventually seen by comedy director Erik Arthur Petschler and he gave her a part in his upcoming film Peter the Tramp (1922).
From 1922 to 1924, Garbo studied at the prestigious Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. While there, she met director Mauritz Stiller. He trained her in cinema acting technique, gave her the stage name "Greta Garbo", and cast her in a major role in the silent film Gösta Berlings saga (English: The Story of Gösta Berling) in 1924, a dramatization of the famous novel by Nobel Prize winner Selma Lagerlöf. She starred in Gösta Berling opposite Swedish film actor Lars Hanson, then appeared in the German film Die freudlose Gasse (The Joyless Street, 1925), directed by G. W. Pabst and co-starring Asta Nielsen.
She and Stiller were brought to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer by Louis B. Mayer when Gösta Berlings Saga caught his attention. On viewing the film during a visit to Berlin, Mayer was impressed with Stiller`s direction, but was much more taken with Garbo`s acting and screen presence. According to Mayer`s daughter, Irene Mayer Selznick, with whom he screened the film, it was the gentle feeling and expression that emanated from her eyes which so impressed her father.
Unfortunately, her relationship with Stiller came to an end as her fame grew and he struggled in the studio system. He was fired by MGM and returned to Sweden in 1928, where he died soon after. Garbo was also close friends with Einar Hanson, a Swedish actor who worked with her and Pabst on Joyless Street, and then came to Hollywood to work at MGM and Paramount Pictures. Einar Hanson was killed in an auto accident in 1927, after leaving a dinner with Garbo and Stiller. Garbo`s sister Alva died of cancer in 1926 at the age of 23 after appearing in one feature film in Sweden, adding to the melancholy Garbo felt at being in Hollywood. MGM refused to allow Garbo to return to Sweden for her sister`s funeral, and Garbo was only able to return to Sweden for a visit in 1928.
Life in Hollywood
The most important of Garbo`s silent movies were The Temptress (1926), Flesh and the Devil (1926), and Love (1927). She starred in the latter two with the popular leading man John Gilbert. Her name was linked with his in a much publicized romance, and she was said to have left him standing at the altar in 1926, when she changed her mind about getting married.
Having achieved enormous success as a silent movie star, she was one of the few actors who made the transition to talkies, though she delayed the shift for as long as possible. Her film The Kiss (1929) was the last film MGM made without dialogue (it used a soundtrack with music and sound effects only).
Her voice was first heard on screen in Eugene O`Neill`s Anna Christie (1930), which was publicized with the slogan "Garbo Talks". The movie was a huge success. In 1931 Garbo made a German version of the movie.
Garbo appeared as the World War I spy Mata Hari (1931). She was next part of an all-star cast in Grand Hotel (1932) in which she played a Russian ballerina.
She then had a contract dispute with MGM. She signed a new contract in July 1932, departing for Sweden later the same month. She exercised her new control by getting her leading man in Queen Christina (1933), Laurence Olivier, replaced with Gilbert. In 1935, David O. Selznick wanted her cast as the dying heiress in Dark Victory, but she insisted on doing Tolstoy`s Anna Karenina. Bette Davis would eventually play the Judith Trahenre role in Dark Victory and score her third Oscar nomination.
Her role as the doomed courtesan in Camille (1936), directed by George Cukor, would be regarded by Garbo a
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Full Name at Birth
Greta Lovisa Gustafsson
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Ernest Lubitsch, Cecil Beaton, David Niven, Viveca Lindfors, Hjodoris Niven, Dorothy Lamour, Cedric Gibbons, Dolores Del Rio, Salka Viertel
Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy  (Mark A. Vieira), Garbo  (barry paris), Garbo: portraits from her private collection  (Scott Reisfield), Greta Garbo: divine (David Robinson), Conversations with Greta Garbo (Sven Broman), Garbo: Her Story (Anton Gronowicz), The films of Greta Garbo (Michael Conway), Greta & Cecil (Diana Souhami), Walking With Garbo: Conversations and Recollections (Raymond Daum), The Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly and Others (Jane Ellen Wayne), The Faces of Hollywood (Clarence Sinclair Bull), Hollywood Divas : The Good, The Bad, and The Fabulous (James Robert Parish), Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood (Mick LaSalle)
Karl Alfred Gustafsson
Anna Lovisa Karlsson
Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990), born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson, was a Swedish film actress and an international star and icon during Hollywood's silent and classic periods. Many of her films were sensational hits, and all but three of her twenty-four Hollywood films were profitable. Garbo was nominated four times for an Academy Award and received an honorary one in 1954 for her "luminous and unforgettable screen performances". She also won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for both Anna Karenina (1935) and Camille (1936). In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Garbo fifth on their list of greatest female stars of all time, after Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman.
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