Friday, September 18, 2015

Born Today September 18: Greta Garbo


Born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in Stockholm Sweden.  She began her acting career there in 1920, in a bit part, though a lot of sources claim in actually came in 1924, since that was the part that got the attention of Louie B. Mayer.  In actuality she was in 5 Swedish films before the 1924 Gösta Berlings saga role.  Her first USA role came 2 year later, as she was first enticed to Germany to make one lone silent there in 1925.  She originally had no acting aspirations at all. She came from a working class family, so when for laborer father died when she was just 14 she was forced to quit school and go to work at a department store.  It was a commercial short film made for the department store at the age of 15 (the same referenced above) that got her into the business. Swedish comedy director Erik A. Petschler (incidentally also born in September) saw the film/commercial and liked her in the role, and the rest, again, is history.  Garbo became a very famous actress starring in many very high profile films in the 1930's, but she is just a famous for retiring completely from acting at the age of 35 in 1941; and she meant it!  She never returned to acting--period.  She lived a semi-secluded life alone, travelled quite a bit but always out of the spotlight.  If she can be said to have had a second career, really more like a hobby, she became an art collector and her collection was reportedly worth millions upon her death in New York City on the 15th of April 1990 at the age of 84.  One very fortunate thing is that almost all of her silents survive--rare for the 1920's when so many films were simply discarded by the studios--a practice they unfortunately kept doing all the way through to the early 1970's.

Garbo in her 1924 Swedish break-out role.
Her Silent Era Work In 3 Countries:

Herr och fru Stockholm (1920) (Her "Swedish" breakout role")

Luffar-Petter (1922) (playing a character named "Greta" and credited as Greta Gustafsson)

Gösta Berlings saga (1924) (her actual breakout role, currently on Amazon Prime.)

Der freundlose Gasse (1925) (her German film)

Torrent (1926) (her first US film)

Flesh And The Devil (1926) (this film was one of the first to have an alternative ending)

Love (1927) (this is actually the first Anna Karenina!  It was renamed for promotional purposes, and had two endings the classic tragic ending and an alternative happy ending.  Of course, she famously reprised the role in 1935 in a Selznick production.  Most people prefer this film to that one.)

The Divine Woman (1928) (partially lost film, only one reel remains (9 minutes) of the film.  It is available on DVD in the Garbo Signature Box Set)

The Woman Of Affairs (1928) (partial silent film, mono soundtrack and sound effects)

Wild Orchids (1929) (partial silent, with Western Electric soundtrack and sound effects)

The Single Standard (1929) (partial silent, Western Electric soundtrack and sound effects)

The Kiss (1929) (partial silent, Western Electric soundtrack and sound effects)

A Man's Man (1929) (as herself)

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