Her volatile mentor/director Mauritz Stiller, who brought her to Hollywood, was abruptly fired from directing her second MGM Hollywood film, The Temptress (1926), after repeated arguments with MGM execs. Unable to hold a job in Hollywood, he returned to Sweden in 1928 and died shortly after at the age of 45. Garbo was devastated.
Her favorite American director was Ernst Lubitsch, although Clarence Brown, directed her in six films, including the classics Flesh and the Devil (1926), A Woman of Affairs (1928), Anna Christie (1930), and Anna Karenina (1935).
Left John Gilbert standing at the altar in 1927 when she got cold feet about marrying him.
Popularized trenchcoats & berets in the 1930s.
Her first "talkie" film was Anna Christie (1930).
Her greatest confidante was Salka Viertel, a German friend who had known her back in Sweden. Viertel proved to be very manipulative of her, including relationships (particularly with that of Mercedes de Acosta), film choices and general living. It was Viertel, in fact, who persuaded her not to return to films. Ironically, Viertel was friendly with Marlene Dietrich, Garbo's enemy, whom Salka had known back in Germany's Weimer Republic, and she had a lot of dirt on Dietrich's deepest secrets and past. Garbo's film choices were largely determined by Salka's persuasion; they co-starred in the German version of Anna Christie (1930), and shortly after that Garbo insisted that Salka be placed on the MGM payroll as a writer for her films.
In Italy, her first films (like Mata Hari (1931) and Grand Hotel (1932)) were dubbed by Francesca Braggiotti. Because Braggiotti had been living in the United States for many years and had a slight American accent, the Italian public didn't really accept her voice so the very Italian Tina Lattanzi was chosen as Garbo's official Italian voice instead (she even re-dubbed Mata Hari (1931)). For her last two films Ninotchka (1939) and Two-Faced Woman (1941), she was dubbed by Andreina Pagnani. When some of Garbo films were re-released in Italy in the 1960's, they were re-dubbed once more. This is how stage actress Anna Proclemer lent her voice to the divine Garbo.
Pictured on a 37¢ USA commemorative postage stamp issued 23 September 2005, five days after her 100th birthday. On the same day, Sweden issued a 10kr stamp with the same design. The likeness on the stamps was based on a photograph taken during the filming of As You Desire Me (1932).
In late 1934, after Queen Christina (1933) and The Painted Veil (1934), which were both huge hits in Europe (making twice their budget in the UK alone) but underwhelming US successes, Garbo signed a contract with MGM saying that she would only make films under David O. Selznick and Irving Thalberg. Her next two films, Anna Karenina (1935) and Camille (1936), were notable hits at the US box office, and produced by Selznick and Thalberg respectively. In 1937 her contract had to be revised, as Selznick left the studio in 1935 and Thalberg had died. She made only three films after "Camille".
When she heard that David O. Selznick, who had produced her hit Anna Karenina (1935), was leaving MGM in 1935 to start his own studio, she begged him to stay, promising that she would let him personally supervise all of her pictures exclusively. He said that it would be a great honor, but he had other plans. Ironically, the usually very finicky Irving Thalberg, Garbo's other favorite producer, was the first person to give Selznick money to start his company ($200,000).
Her personal favourite movie of her own was Camille (1936).
Throughout her entire MGM career, she insisted that William H. Daniels be cinematographer on her pictures. This may not have been purely superstition, as the two notable films she made without him--Conquest (1937) and Two-Faced Woman (1941)- were her only notable flops.
Her performance as Ninotchka in Ninotchka (1939) is ranked #25 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Her performance as Ninotchka in Ninotchka (1939) is ranked #53 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
A photograph of Greta Garbo, probably cut from a movie magazine, was one of several images of movie stars, royalty, pieces of art, and family members used as decoration by Anne Frank on the wall of her room in the "Secret Annex" in Amsterdam where she and her family hid from July 1942 until their capture by the Nazis in August 1944.
She was originally chosen for the lead roles in The Paradine Case (1947), My Cousin Rachel (1952), and The Wicked Dutchess. Garbo turned down these roles, with the exception of The Wicked Dutchess, which was never shot due to financial problems.
Was offered the role of Mama Hanson in I Remember Mama (1948), but she turned it down. Irene Dunne was cast instead and went on to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance.
In the mid-1950s she bought a seven-room-apartment in New York City (450 East 52nd Street) and lived there until she died.
Was offered the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Blvd. (1950), but she turned it down. Gloria Swanson was cast instead and she went on to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance.
1951: Became a US citizen.
According to her friend, producer William Frye, he offered Garbo one million dollars to star as the Mother Superior in his film The Trouble with Angels (1966). When she declined, he cast Rosalind Russell in the part - at a much lower salary.
Although it was believed that Garbo lived as an invalid in her post-Hollywood career, this is incorrect. She was a real jet setter, traveling with international tycoons and socialites. In the 1970s she traveled less and grew more and more eccentric, although she still took daily walks through Central Park with close friends and walkers. Due to failing health in the late 1980s, her mobility was challenged. In her final year it was her family that cared for her, including taking her to dialysis treatments. She died with them by her side.
Is portrayed by Kristina Wayborn in The Silent Lovers (1980) (TV)
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume Two, 1986-1990, pages 316-319. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1999.
October 1997: Ranked #38 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.
Letters and correspondence between Garbo and poet, socialite and notorious lesbian Mercedes de Acosta were unsealed on April 15, 2000, exactly 10 years after Garbo's death (per De Acosta's instructions). The letters revealed no love affair between the two, as had been rumored.
Once lived in the famed Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles (8221 Sunset Boulevard).