Tuesday, June 25

How Things Worked Out for the Lady Officially Coined “The Most Beautiful Woman That Ever Lived”

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Greta Garbo was referred to as the Swedish sphynx, perfection, and the greatest mystery of world cinema. She dreamed of acting and when her dream came true, she ran away from everyone to live under a fake name in complete isolation. A huge movie corporation tried to take hold of her, but Garbo turned out to be stronger and took over the corporation herself. Hollywood kneeled before this great woman and she is still believed to be one of the most popular actresses in the world.

We at 5 Fun Facts are convinced that the story of the Snow Queen from Scandinavia would make an excellent movie and there’s an actress out there who can portray her character on screen. Here are 10 facts that could be used for a great biopic about Greta Garbo.

  • Garbo was not her real last name. Her actual name was Greta Lovisa Gustafsson. Her stage name was coined by a Swedish director named Mauritz Stiller. According to one of the versions of the story, he changed her last name slightly based on the popular Norway actress of the 1920s, Erica Darbo.
  • Garbo was raised in a very poor family. When the girl was just 14 years old, her father died. The girl then had to leave school and start working. She went to work in a hat store and the owner decided to take a picture of her for commercials for his products. This was the day when the shy but photogenic girl attracted the attention of show business representatives. In the beginning, she was invited to work as a model but the young Greta was more interested in acting, so she entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

How Things Worked Out for the Lady Officially Coined “The Most Beautiful Woman That Ever Lived”

  • Before she became Greta Garbo, Greta Gustafsson was a bit plump. Mauritz Stiller, a director, made her lose some weight. But even after that, she wasn’t considered slim enough in Hollywood. In the end, we grew to know her as a symbol of elegance and grace but she herself was very shy about her own appearance, even after she became a star. Garbo admitted that she thought she was huge and clumsy. She felt that way mostly because he boasted a size 11 foot and stood tall at 5’9″. In the beginning, the girl had trouble speaking English which only made her shyness worse, but soon she became the Queen of Hollywood with great earnings and the power to tell Metro Goldwyn Mayer her own conditions.
  • Unlike many other actors, it was easy for Garbo to overcome the end of the era of silent film. In 1930, the film Anna Christy was released. It was marketed with the slogan, “Garbo Talks!” The actress had a great voice that was a bit hoarse which made her even more memorable.
  • Garbo’s eyelashes inspired the famous Max Factor. In the beginning, he figured that cosmetics wouldn’t be able to recreate something like them. But before the girl became an actress, she was recommended to have her eyelashes cut in order for them not to put shade over her eyes. Fortunately, Greta didn’t do it.
  • In the 1950s, Greta Garbo was named “The Most Beautiful Woman Who Ever Lived” by the Guinness World Records. Most likely, she was chosen because of her amazingly symmetrical face (you probably know that most people’s left and right sides of their faces are significantly different). Despite all this, the actress herself was sure that her sister Alva was more attractive and talented than her. Unfortunately, Alva died at the age of 24 of lymphoma.
  • Garbo literally escaped from her own wedding. She was supposed to marry the actor John Gilbert who she’d met on the set of Flesh and the Devil but she didn’t show up for their wedding that was organized by MGM. The actress was shocked by the news that Mauritz Stiller had passed away and the fact that Metro Goldwyn Mayer management wouldn’t allow her to go to his funeral.
  • Garbo retired from her movie career when she was 36 years old. He last movie was Two-Faced Woman and critics didn’t really like it. After that, she lived in a Manhattan apartment under a fake name, Harriet Brown. The actress admitted that her profession was really hard on her.
  • The star was a British intelligence spy. Historian David Bret wrote about this in his book, Greta Garbo: Divine Star. According to his information, the actress convinced the Swedish King Gustav to offer asylum to 500 Jews who were going to be sent to Germany to die. She also helped Niels Bohr escape from Germany — he was the inventor of the first nuclear bomb. Adolf Hitler was a fan of Greta Garbo’s and even invited her to Germany at the beginning of the ’40s. Garbo herself later said that maybe she should’ve gone to Germany and killed the führer. That way she would’ve become a hero like Joan of Arc. However, it still may not have stopped the war.
  • Greta Garbo died in 1990. She didn’t have any children so her big fortune was inherited by her niece, Gray Reisfield. The actress asked to be buried in Stockholm and her request was executed 10 years after she died.

What do you think of Greta Garbo’s story? Which part of it amazed you the most?

Preview photo credit Everett Collection / East News

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