Greta Garbo

Please post your comments and suggestions for this article.

Comment by Anne Berkeley on October 12th, 2011 at 6:51 pm

There are several mistakes in this article:

1)she was not nominated for an Academy Award for the Kiss. You correctly cite her AA nominations later.
2)It is speculative that she “failed to show up at the wedding” with Gilbert. Recent biographers question the veracity of this claim.
3)She was not in over 30 films. The first 3 “films” you cite were advertisements for the department store where she worked, the PUB. I have read all three recent biographies about her and there is no mention of Scarlet Angel. She did not make another Swedish film after Gosta Berling.
4)I suggest that she was not known for being tempermental or difficult on her sets. Just eccentric, demanding that screens or flats be put up for her close ups to to prevent prying eyes of extras, etc. (as you say.)

In addition to Paris, please read most recent biographies of Garbo by Karen Swenson and Mark Vieria. You should also read Loving Garbo by Hugo Vickers.

I have rewritten and updated the Garbo page in Wikipedia in the last 6 months. Thanks for your attention. Anne Berkeley

Comment by Jennifer Tanabe on November 14th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Thank you Anne for your valuable feedback. The article is being revised taking into account your comments.

Jennifer P. Tanabe, Social Sciences Editor, NWE

Comment by Anne Berkeley on December 13th, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Hello Jennifer, Here are some new corrections. Thanks for your attention, and have fun! I wish I had your job! ~Anne

Garbo, Greta. You say, “…prominent during Hollywood’s silent film period and part of its Golden Age.” GG was prominent only in the last four years of the silent period. Many film historians identify the “golden age” as 1929, or 1930, to 1945 when the studios were forced to break with their distribution partners. Therefore, it makes sense to me that it would be accurate to say something like, “GG was prominent during the both the silent and “Golden Age” periods in Hollywood.

Early life. Karen Swensen and Barry Paris, two of the three most recent GG biographers, spell her early director’s name “Petschler.”

Early life. You say she starred in two more movies in Sweden after Gosta Berling; Again, this is incorrect. After GS, She starred in the German film The Joyless Street, directed by G.W. Pabst. Then she came to the U.S.

Life in Hollywood. The German and American versions of Anna Christie, and Romance were all released in 1930. See Swensen, Paris, and Mark Vieira.

Later Career. You say, “Although Two-Faced Woman did well at the box office, the negative reviews caused Garbo to refuse to make another film with MGM.” There are many theories about why GG retired. It seems that among them was her reaction to the reviews of T-FW. Also, you imply that she might have worked for another studio but there is no evidence that she did.

Personal Life. You say, “GG lived the last years of her life in absolute seclusion.” As I say in the Wikipedia article, this is a myth. Though she spent much time alone, she had many friends with whom she socialized and travelled.

Personal Life. Toward the end of her life, she formed a relationship with George Schlee, who at the time was married to the fashion designer Valentina.” Actually, she met Schlee in 1940, when she was thirty-five. They were friends until his death in 1964. She lived until 1990. So more accurately, they were friends during her middle age.

Legacy: You say, “[because of her] intense desire to be private and mysterious.” There is absolutely no evidence that she desired to be mysterious. This too is speculative. After reading her biographies which provide insight into her personality, it seems highly unlikely. Private, yes, mysterious, no.

Comment by Jennifer Tanabe on December 14th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Thank you again Anne! We’re fortunate to have you helping NWE with your comments.
I’ll work on revising the article very soon. Jennifer.

Comment by Anne Berkeley on December 19th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Hi again, Jennifer,

Need to correct an error I made. It was not the “distributors” with whom the studios were forced to separate (by law) but the “exhibitors” (i.e., Loewe’s, Paramount, etc.). Sorry! Greetings, Anne

Comment by Anne Berkeley on December 20th, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Greetings Jennifer,

I there are two important mistakes in the section, Later Career. You say, “so the studio had to pay Garbo $250,000 despite her refusal to work.” First, she did not refuse to work at all. On the contrary, she did not intend to retire at this time, even though she was reportedly devastated, as you say, by the reviews of Two-Faced Woman. But he studio struggled to find another script for her when it lost the foreign market (due to the war). They finally found one, The Girl from Leningrad. Garbo signed a contract not for $250.000 but for a a greatly reduced salary. But the project collapsed. Garbo, understanding the situation, released MGM from the contract. They didn’t pay her a cent. See Swensen and Paris–Paris, right in front of me, on pp. 382 and 83.

(Also, you say that she made over 30 films with MGM. G made only 25 films in the US (excluding a cameo appearance with Gilbert in 1929 silent), all with MGM, as you say.)

(Finally, I recommend you take Jane Ellen Wayne off your reference list. It doesn’t seem as if you refer to her anywhere and she is a thoroughly discredited gossip monger about everyone she’s written)

Please know that I otherwise think your entry is excellent and very-well written. But as I think I’ve become something of an expert on GG, eager to dispel the many myths about her, along with factual errors and unsubstanciated allegations, I’m watching your site with keen interest. Fortunately, we have 3 excellent and very credible, scrupulously cited, biographies of her written in the last 17 years.

Kind regards, Anne Berkeley

Comment by Anne Berkeley on January 6th, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Hi Jennifer,

I need to correct one of my statements. She made 24, not 25, films in America (I was counting the scrapped silent, Anna Karenina). So, with the three she made in Europe–Peter the Tramp, Gosta Berling, and The Joyless Street–she made only 27 feature films in her career.

Cheers, Anne Berkeley

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