Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo, born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18, 1905, and passing away on April 15, 1990, was a Swedish-American actress. She is celebrated as one of the greatest screen actresses in history, known for her melancholic and somber persona, her portrayal of tragic characters, and her subtle and understated performances. In 1999, the American Film Institute recognized Greta Garbo’s brilliance by ranking her fifth on its list of the greatest female stars from classic Hollywood cinema.

Greta Garbo’s cinematic journey began with a supporting role in the 1924 Swedish film “The Saga of Gösta Berling.” Her compelling performance caught the eye of Louis B. Mayer, the chief executive of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), who brought her to Hollywood in 1925. Her American silent film debut, “Torrent” (1926), garnered attention, and the success continued with “Flesh and the Devil” (1927), marking her as an international star. “A Woman of Affairs” (1928) elevated her to MGM’s highest box-office star, surpassing the long-reigning Lillian Gish. Other notable silent-era films include “The Mysterious Lady” (1928), “The Single Standard” (1929), and “The Kiss” (1929).

Greta Garbo transitioned to sound with “Anna Christie” (1930), an MGM marketing triumph proclaimed with the tagline “Garbo talks!” That year, she also starred in “Romance,” earning her the first of three Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. By 1932, her success allowed her to dictate contract terms, and she became more selective about her roles. Notable films from this era include “Mata Hari” (1931), “Susan Lenox (Her Fall and Rise)” (1931), “Grand Hotel” (1932), “Queen Christina” (1933), and “Anna Karenina” (1935).

Her portrayal of the doomed courtesan Marguerite Gautier in “Camille” (1936) is often considered her finest, earning her a second Academy Award nomination. Despite her subsequent designation as box office poison in 1938, Greta Garbo’s career experienced a revival with a comedic turn in “Ninotchka” (1939), earning her a third Academy Award nomination. After the disappointment of “Two-Faced Woman” (1941), she retired from the screen at the age of 35, having acted in 28 films. In 1954, Greta Garbo received an Academy Honorary Award “for her luminous and unforgettable screen performances.”

Post-retirement, Greta Garbo consistently declined opportunities to return to the screen, maintaining a private life while becoming an avid art collector. Her collection included works by renowned artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pierre Bonnard, and Kees van Dongen.

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