Greta Garbo was born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson on September 18 th 1905. She was born into a poor family, and when she was just fourteen her father passed away. In order to raise money for the family, Greta had to go out and find work. She went to work at a barbershop first of all, and then got a job as a department store clerk. This was where her interest in acting developed. The department store used her for some modelling work and some advertising shorts, and a comedy director happened to see the teenage Greta in the short.
The comedy director offered Greta a bit part in his next film, ‘Peter the Tramp’. This whet young Greta’s appetite for acting, and she spent the next two years studying at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. This is where she met Swedish Director, Mauritz Stiller, who changed her name to Garbo, gave her some training, and gave her a role in the movie ‘The Story of Gosta Berling’.
It was Stiller that managed to get Greta a contract from MGM, insisting that she be given a break with the company after he was asked to go and work with them. Garbo went on to star in a number of classic silent movies, but found her niche when sound was introduced to movies. She was nominated for many Academy Awards, and starred in movies such as: ‘Anna Christie’, ‘Romance’, ‘Mata Hari’, and ‘Grand Hotel’.
She was also the leading lady in the 1934 movie, Queen Christina’. She had so much control over her movies by this time, that she forced MGM to fire the original leading male, Laurence Olivier, and replace him with former lover, John Gilbert. Greta was now indeed one of the original Hollywood darlings. She was just 36 when she retired from acting, following the movie disaster ‘Two Faced Woman’.
She died on April 15 th 1990 in New York from natural causes.
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