She was the greatest actress who has ever lived!
Greta Garbo: Divine Star
The Robson Press, $29.95, 352 pages
It is not an urban legend: Greta Garbo actually said, “I want to be alone”. She went out of her way to avoid the public and the press her entire life. This infuriated the gossip columnists who had to make things up because she rarely granted interviews. Her self-imposed solitude added to her mystique, which became legendary.
“In Hollywood where every tea table bristles with gossip writers, what I say might be misunderstood. So I am as silent as the grave about my private affairs.”Greta Gustaffson was discovered by Louis B. Mayer of MGM, who brought her to the United States from Sweden. Always temperamental, Garbo had many run-ins with her boss at MGM, and frequently threatened to move back to Sweden unless she got her way. Mayer reluctantly capitulated because she was a top money maker.
Garbo never married, much to the chagrin of her fans, but her many loves included both men and women. Her closest friends were gay or bisexual.
Garbo claimed not to like Hollywood or making movies. She left Hollywood in nineteen forty nine and never made another motion picture. Despite curious paparazzi and fans, she managed to stay out of the public eye until her death.
This biography is highly readable, well written, and provides a keen insight into Garbo’s character and career. Because her private life was so private, there is a lot that isn’t known, but the author has clearly done his research.
Reviewed by Leslie Wolfson