Swedish-born actress Greta Garbo is regarded by many as the quintessential embodiment of Hollywood's Golden Age. Having gotten her start in the fall of 1920 as a hat model for the Stockholm department store PUB, she was eventually cast in several local promotional films, during which time she met producer and director Erik Petschler, who offered her a small role in his silent film Luffar-Petter (translated as "Peter the Tramp"). Garbo's newfound love of acting led her to quit her job at PUB to pursue acting full time, shortly after which she applied to the Royal Dramatic Theatre Academy, where she was accepted in 1922.
Between 1922 and 1925, Garbo worked on films with classmate Mona Martenson, Swedish film director Mauritz Stiller and Austrian film director G. W. Pabst. Her first major role was in the four-hour film The Saga of Gosta Berling, and her performance was greeted with much fanfare in Stockholm and beyond. Immediately after viewing the film, American-Canadian director Louis B. Mayer offered her a contract with MGM in Hollywood, which she graciously accepted. By July 1925, Garbo and Stiller had relocated to New York, where they awaited MGM's cue to move to Hollywood.
Garbo's most acclaimed silent films include The Torrent, The Temptress and Flesh and the Devil, among others. She starred in her final silent film, The Kiss, in 1929, after which she announced her first talkie role in Anna Christie. At first it was questionable as to how the public would react to her Swedish accent, but when they couldn't get enough once she'd uttered her first words on the big screen. "Gimme a viskey, chincher ale on the side and don't be stingy, baybee." Her sultry foreign accent only added to the vampy starlet's mystery and intrigue.
Garbo's rise to stardom continued to escalate over the years, and she took on many more film roles before retiring in the '40s. In 1954, she received an honorary Academy Award for her "unforgettable screen performances," but in true Garbo style, she did not attend the ceremony. Throughout everything I've read about Garbo, the thing that strikes me most is her devotion to privacy. Although continuously in the media spotlight, she somehow managed to live an extremely private life, giving only 11 confirmed interviews in her lifetime. She explains this best in one of her first interviews with Photoplay magazine in 1927: "I was born, I grew up, I have lived like every other person. Why must people talk about me? We all do the same things in ways that are just a little different."
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