I know enough stuff that I am happy to admit when I don’t know stuff, and one thing I don’t know is what the deal is with the cult of Garbo. I’m not sure if I have ever seen any of her films in their entirety, but I have seen montages and career overviews and she just looks like any other actress to me. She seems rather chilly and remote, pretty of course but not smoking hot (maybe you had to be there) – so what’s the deal? What am I missing? And why did she want to be alone?
In honor of Greta Garbo’s 100th birthday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a centennial tribute to her on Thursday, April 7, at 8 p.m., in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The evening will also serve as a kick-off for the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s seven-week screening series “Garbo: The Divine Woman.”
Presented in conjunction with the Consulate General of Sweden, the event will be hosted by Academy Award-nominated actress Lena Olin and will include appearances by actress Joan Leslie and authors Gore Vidal and Gavin Lambert, who are among the few living individuals to have known Garbo.
Born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in 1905 in Stockholm, Sweden, Garbo got her start in films in a publicity short for a department store. After training with the Royal Dramatic Theater of Stockholm, she appeared in Mauritz Stiller’s “Gösta Berlings Saga” (“The Atonement of Gösta Berling”), the film which brought her to the attention of MGM studio chief Louis B. Mayer. While traveling in Europe, Mayer signed Garbo to the contract that would bring her to Hollywood in 1925.
Garbo’s legendary career at MGM included Academy Award nominations for “Anna Christie” (1929/30), “Romance” (1929/30), “Camille” (1937) and “Ninotchka” (1939), as well as memorable roles in “Flesh and the Devil” (1927), “Mata Hari” (1932), “Grand Hotel” (1932) and “Anna Karenina” (1935). In 1941, at the age of 36, Garbo retired to a reclusive life spent in Manhattan, Switzerland and the Riviera. In 1954, the Academy paid tribute to Garbo’s “unforgettable screen performances” with an Honorary Oscar. The actress died in 1990.
GARBO: THE DIVINE WOMAN
At the UCLA Film and Television Archive James Bridges Theater
April 8 at 7:30p.m.- GÖSTA BERLING
April 9 at 7:30 p.m. – THE TORRENT and FLESH AND THE DEVIL
April 10 at 7:00 p.m. – ANNA CHRISTIE and MATA HARI
April 15 at 7:30 p.m. – QUEEN CHRISTINA and ANNA KARENINA
April 17 at 2:00 p.m. – TWO-FACED WOMAN
April 23 at 7:30 p.m. – SUSAN LENNOX and GRAND HOTEL
April 24 at 7:00 p.m. – CAMILLE and NINOTCHKA
Too bad I’m in Ohio.