9/18/1905 to 4/15/1990
Greta Lovisa Gustafsson was born in Stockholm, Sweden. She was 14 when her father died and she was forced to leave school and go to work in a department store. The store used her for her modelling abilities for newspaper ads. She had no film aspirations until she appeared in an advertising short at the same department store while she was still a teenager.
Encouraged by her own performance she applied for and won a scholarship in a Swedish drama school. While there she had small parts in two films, En lyckoriddare (1921) and Luffarpetter (1922) the following year.
The famous Swedish director, Mauritz Stiller, pulled her from drama school for the leading role in Gösta Berlings saga (1924). At 18, Greta was making progress and following Joyless Street (1925) both Greta and Stiller were offered contracts with MGM.
Her first US film was Torrent (1926), a silent film where she didn’t have to speak a word of English. After a few more films, such as The Temptress (1926), Anna Karenina (1927/I), and A Woman of Affairs (1928), Greta starred in Anna Christie (1930) (her first "talkie"), which not only gave her a powerful screen presence, but also gave her an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress.
Later that year she filmed Romance (1930) and then had a lead role in The Rise of Helga (1931) with Clark Gable. More films followed, but it was MGM's Anna Karenina (1935) where she, perhaps, gave the performance of her life. Greta starred in Ninotchka (1939) which showcased her comedic side. It wasn't until two years later she made what was to be her last film that being Two-Faced Woman (1941), another comedy.
After World War II, Greta, felt that the world had changed perhaps forever and she retired, never again to face the camera. She would work for the rest of her life to perpetuate the Garbo mystique. Her films, she felt, had their proper place in history and would gain in value. She abandoned Hollywood and moved to New York City. She would jet-set with some of the world's best known personalities such as Aristotle Onassis and others. She spent time gardening flowers and vegetables. In 1954, Greta was given a special Oscar for past unforgettable performances. She penned her biography in 1990. On April 15, 1990, Greta died of natural causes in New York and with it the "Garbo Mystique". She was 84.
Except at the very beginning of her career, she granted no interviews, signed no autographs, attended no premieres, and answered no fan mail.