Greta Garbo (The Robson Press)

Greta Garbo: Synopsis

Comparatively little has been published about Greta Garbo's childhood, youth and early adulthood, for which David Bret has returned to the original sources: the death of her father, setting in motion her lifelong neurasthenia; her early Sapphic love affairs; the under-age affairs with married men; her previously undisclosed "wild" years when she augmented the decadence of Weimar Berlin.

Similarly, legend has obscured what really happened during her early years in Hollywood: a previously never before disclosed affair with a fellow Swede which almost certainly resulted in a pregnancy hidden from the world--a whole chapter here is dedicated to Garbo's "missing months", and how the episode was orchestrated. This led to a period of near-suicidal depression from which she emerged to embark on any number of affairs, platonic or otherwise, with celebrities of both sexes, while making some of the finest films of all time. Several of these lovers died young: one took her own life.

Garbo's War. Virulently anti-Nazi, on account of her paranoia for privacy and for not talking about herself, Garbo was hired by Codename Intrepid to work for British Intelligence. Her duties included keeping tabs on several important suspected Nazi supporters, including the Duke of Windsor and a leading Swedish industrialist. She also made a secret visit to Britain, investigated the Swedish royal family, embarked on a top-secret espionage trip to Mexico after Pearl Harbour, and secretly nurtured a plot to kill Hitler. Finally, she hatched and financed a successful mission which rescued 8,000 Danish Jews from Nazi Germany.

Garbo left the movies in 1942, it has always been believed because of the failure of her last film, Two-Faced Woman. The film, as exclusively revealed here, was in fact sabotaged by Francis Spellman, the Archbishop of New York and self-appointed protector of the nation's morals. Aware that he was a promiscuous homosexual, Garbo could have exacted her revenge by "outing" him, but instead chose to devote herself to her war work, and return to Hollywood once the conflict was over. Sadly, she never did, and for almost another half century, in her own words she 'just drifted'.

Garbo contains a wealth of previously unpublished material, extensive source notes, a bibliography and a filmography.

 

Garbo, with Louis B Mayer and, far right, Sven-Hugo Bor

With Lars Hanson