Humble beginnings -
Greta Garbo was actually born Greta Gustafsson on September 8, 1905. She was born in a slum in the city of Stockholm and grew up in poverty.
Discovered as a teen -
Film director Erik Petschler met her when she was 17 years old and gave her a small role in his 1922 movie ‘Luffar-Petter,’ or ‘Peter the Tramp.’
Moving to the US -
In 1925, the newly-named Greta Garbo was off to the US. She started appearing in silent movies for MGM and was an instant hit.
Silent success-For the rest of the 1920s Garbo would continue starring in silent romantic dramas. Some of her more critically-acclaimed projects include ‘Flesh and the Devil’ and ‘A Woman of Affairs.’
More than an ingénue - Over their years working together, Garbo became the ultimate actress to play the object of someone’s desire. They were the perfect cinematic lovers.
Speaking roles -
By the end of the 1920s, Greta Garbo was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. By this time Garbo spoke English, but still had a heavy Swedish accent.
'Anna Christie' (1930) - MGM cast her in the 1930 movie ‘Anna Christie’ and advertised it with the tagline “Garbo talks!”
Garbo's first words -
The first words Greta Garbo ever uttered on screen were “Give me a whiskey.” It’s hard to imagine a line more perfect for the subversive star.
The first of three Oscar nominations - ‘Anna Christie’ was a huge success and Garbo received her first Oscar nomination for her performance.
A unique beauty -
She was voted the most beautiful woman in the world and was adored by both American and European audiences.
Privacy and the press -
Garbo was known to detest the media, once saying: “I feel able to express myself only through my roles, not in words, and that is why I try to avoid talking to the press…
Garbo's unusual diet -
The studios put most of their actresses on strict diets to ensure they maintained their weight. It’s reported that Garbo lost 33 pounds (15 kg) when she was first signed by MGM.
Mercedes de Acosta -
One woman who has been strongly linked to Garbo, and to many other noteworthy women of the era, is Mercedes de Acosta.
The influence of MGM -
Garbo would have been dressed as a boy for much of the performance, but MGM reportedly came in and put a stop to it.
Was she a spy? - Garbo certainly played the role of a spy in the movies ‘Mata Hari’ (1932) and ‘Ninotchka’ (1939), but whether or not she was involved in any real-life espionage is dubious.
Garbo shocked the world when she suddenly retired from acting in 1941 at the age of 36.