Greta Garbo

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Greta Garbo
Greta Lovisa Gustafsson
BirthplaceStockholm, Sweden

Garbo, Greta,

1905–90, American film actress, b. Stockholm, Sweden, as Greta Gustafsson. Garbo's success in the Swedish film The Atonement of Gösta Berling (1923) brought her to Hollywood. Possessing classic beauty and a husky, alluring voice, she was known in her early films for her portrayals of sexual passion. Her image as a tragic heroine was established in Anna Christie (1930), Anna Karenina (1935), and Camille (1936). Garbo retired from the screen and lived in legendary seclusion from 1941 until her death. Her films include Flesh and the Devil (1927), Grand Hotel (1932), and Ninotchka (1939).


See biographies by J. Bainbridge (1971) and B. Paris (1995); M. Conway, The Films of Greta Garbo (1968); H. Vickers, Loving Garbo: The Story of Greta Garbo, Cecil Beaton, and Mercedes Acosta (1994).

Garbo, Greta


(pseudonym of Greta Gustafsson). Born Sept. 18, 1905, in Stockholm. American actress of Swedish nationality.

Born into the family of a worker, Garbo graduated from a school of dramatic art in Stockholm. In 1922 she made her debut in films, and in 1924 she played her first important role in the film The Saga of Gösta Berling. She soon moved to Germany and in 1925 played one of the principal roles in the film Joyless Streets. In 1926 she began to work in Hollywood. In most of her films she created the image of a suffering, deeply unhappy woman. The sincerity and emotionality of her performances and her natural charm won her worldwide recognition. However, the banality of Hollywood films, which she tried to overcome by endowing her heroines with a rich spiritual world, prevented Garbo from realizing her creative potential. Her fine dramatic talent revealed itself in leading roles in the films Queen Christina (1933), Anna Karenina (1935), and Camille (1937). Since 1941, after an unsuccessful performance in the film Two-faced Woman, Garbo has not appeared on the screen.


Urazov, I. Greta Garbo. Moscow-Leningrad, 1927.
Laing, E. E. Greta Garbo: The Story of a Specialist. London, 1946.

Garbo, Greta (b. Greta Louisa Gustafson)

(1905–90) film actress; born in Stockholm. A shop-girl who won a bathing beauty contest at age 16, she made some publicity shorts and studied acting before gaining international recognition in Mauritz Stiller's Swedish film, The Story of Gosta Berling (1924). She came to Hollywood (1924) with Stiller, her mentor and companion, and they worked together on The Torrent (1926) but he soon returned to Sweden while she stayed on to become known as "The Swedish Sphinx," reflecting her aloofness and cool beauty. Promoted by the resources of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, she became an international star, especially after her first talkie, Anna Christie (1930); although she made only 13 more films and retired abruptly in 1941, she came to personify all that was most alluring yet unattainable about movie stars. She became an American citizen in 1951, and in 1954 was awarded a special Oscar. Although linked with several men, she never married and became almost a recluse in her final decades.
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