Few actresses have left behind as big of an aura of mystery as Greta Garbo. The Swedish actress, brought into MGM by Louie B. Mayer in the 1920′s, quickly became one of the most glamorous stars in the world. Her screen presence was both alluring and bewitching, and her silent films, like Flesh and the Devil, cemented her as one of the most sensuous actresses put to screen.
Garbo’s first two talkies were Anna Christie and Romance, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. Her most famous pre-Code work includes a turn in Best Picture winner Grand Hotel in which she uttered (a close approximation to) the line she would always be remembered for: “I want to be alone.” Her films pushed boundaries during the era, such as in the racy sexual hijinks in Mata Hari as well as the famous lesbian kiss in the seminal Queen Christina.
Some of her career’s definitive works would come later, such Camille in 1936 and Ninotchka in 1939. She would retire from acting in 1941 after the disastrous Two-Faced Woman at the age of 35 after appearing in only 28 feature films (Myrna Loy, it should be noted, was in more films than that in 1930-32 alone). Unsurprisingly, Garbo returned to a secluded lifestyle where she spent time with friends and shunning the ever-fascinated public. She passed away due to pneumonia in 1990, but remains one of the biggest glamor emblems of the Golden Age of Hollywood and an icon to millions.
Greta Garbo’s Pre-Code Filmography
- Anna Christie (1930)
- Romance (1930)
- Inspiration (1931)
- Susan Lenox [Her Fall and Rise] (1931)
- Mata Hari (1931)
- Grand Hotel (1932)
- As You Desire Me (1932)
- Queen Christina (1933)
- The Painted Veil (1934)
Greta Garbo Sites and Links
- Greta Garbo – The Ultimate Star
- Greta Garbo Lives
- Garbo Forever
- The Virtual History of Greta Garbo (Lots of primary sources!)