© THE NEW YORK TIMES, April 21, 1978 by HOWARD BLUM:
Garbo Book Is Called A Hoax
A biography of Greta Garbo told, according to its publishers, “in her own words” has become the center of a literary controversy as friends and lawyers for the famed actress content that the still-unpublished book is a hoax.
And Miss Garbo, surfacing only a bit from the reclusiveness that has characterized her life since she retired from screen in 1941, has allowed her friends to circulate a notarized affidavit in which the actress swears she has never met the author of the book.
In the middle of this fray is the manuscript by Antoni Gronowicz, a Polish émigré author, which Simon & Schuster has contracted to publish only after the death of Miss Garbo.
“I have known Miss Garbo since 1938.” Mr Gronowicz said in a telephone interview. “She thinks the book will damage her reputation. I had many interviews with her. She is trying to destroy me.”
Miss Garbo’s 87-word affidavit, which was notarized by a New York lawyer, Michael A. Schub, states in part: “I have never at any time entertained any type of human relationship whether of friendship, acquaintance or otherwise with Antoni Gronowicz.”
This affidavit, along with letters from Miss Garbo’s friends and other hints that other affidavits and possible legal actions were forthcoming, helped to disillusion Seuil, the Paris publishing house, that is attempting to cancel its $110,000 contract with Simon & Schuster for French rights to the biography.
Richard E. Snyder, president of Simon & Schuster, issued a statement yesterday, in response to inquiries by The Times, stating in part that “prior to acquiring publishing rights to this work Simon & Schuster examined the circumstances surrounding the manuscript and determined to go forward with the publishing agreement.” And he said “Miss Garbo had refused to keep appointments made on her behalf with representatives of Simon & Schuster”…
He stated that Cecile de Rothschild, a friend of Miss Garbo, had called his office on two occasions to discuss the manuscript and had promise to arrange the meeting with Miss Garbo that never took place.
Mr. Snyder also raised the possibility of his company’s talking legal action, commenting: “It is currently our impression that there has been a conspiracy of international proportions to censor and prevent publication of this work. If we remain satisfied that the work is what it purports to be, we will prosecute to the limits of the law those figures involved in attempts to suppress this book.”
Mr. Snyder also said: “If we learn the book is not what its purports to be, we won’t publish. But we won’t be denied the right to publish a literary work about a public personality because that person wants to be left alone.”
The furor over the Garbo biography is a story that involves the reputations not only of a legend, an author and a distinguished publisher, but it also is a story of how books are bought and sold.
At the core of this dispute, of course, is Mr. Gronowicz’s manuscript. Morton L. Janklow, Mr. Gronowicz’s agent, will only describe the work as “tasteful and beautifully written.” People in the publishing industry who have seen versions of the manuscript, which is currently being edited by Michael Korda of Simon & Schuster, describe it as “sensational stuff.” According to these sources, Mr. Gronowicz’s work includes a description of the author’s alleged relationship with Miss Garbo and alleged details of Miss Garbo’s sexual encounters.
Mr. Gronowicz completed his version of the biography in the 1960’s, but the author’s work did not end with his writing the final sentence. Mr. Gronowicz spent nearly a decade trying to sell the manuscript to a publisher.
In 1970 Mr. Gronowicz contracted with Dodd, Mead & Company to publish a novel, “An Orange Full of Dreams.” and an “authorized” biography of Greta Garbo. The advanced for the biography was reported to be “approximately $30,000.”
“Just before the novel went into galleys,” recalls Thomas Lipscomb, president of Times Books, a division of the New York Times Company, who then was editor in chief at Dodd, Mead “Tony Mr. Gronowicz told us he was able to get an introduction to the novel by Greta Garbo.”
Dodd, Mead never obtained a signed release from Miss Garbo for the introduction, but Mr. Lipscomb remembers that the typescript was apparently signed by Miss Garbo.
The novel was published with the introduction attribute to Miss Garbo and the dust cover of the book stated, “This book was written for Garbo at her request…”
Lillian Poses, a lawyer who is now representing Miss Garbo, stated yesterday. “Greta Garbo never wrote any introduction for any book by Mr. Mr. Gronowicz.”
Mr. Gronowicz’s contract to publish an “authorized” biography of Miss Garbo with Dodd, Mead, was canceled in 1972 when, according to Mr. Lipscomb, “Tony Gronowicz never produces the documentation from Miss Garbo that his was an authorized book.” Timothy Seldes, a literary agent representing Mr. Gronowicz, in 1973 tried to place the book with a publishing house. Mr. Seldes withdrew from the project because, he said, “I had reason to doubt the validity of the manuscript.” The manuscript was finally sold to Simon & Schuster for a reported $150,000 advance.
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