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© THE NEW YORK TIMES, September 19, 1985 by DENA KLEIMAN:

© 1951 George Hoynigen Huene - Greta GarboThe Elusive Garbo Turns 80

There was no trace of her at the bookstore around the corner where she often stops. The movie moguls have long since given up. Not even the Swedish Consul General had a clue what she was up to. It was Greta Garbo's 80th birthday yesterday and by all indications, the elusive film star spent it - as she would have wanted -alone. ''She's always refused us,'' said Magnus Faxen, Sweden's Consul General, when asked if there would be a party. Edward Pine, vice president of publicity for MGM/UA, said there would be no party at the film company - whose predecessor, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, was for years Miss Garbo's home studio - either. ''Miss Garbo wanted her privacy and we're respecting it,'' explained Mr. Pine. ''She wants to be alone,'' Count Wilhelm Wachtmeister, the Swedish Ambassador to the United States, offered through a sectretary, adding that he believed Miss Garbo was in Switzerland.

An Enduring Enigma Allan Elsner, who owns the bookshop on First Avenue where Miss Garbo frequently stops, said he had not seen the actress in months. ''She's in Europe the way she always is this time of year,'' offered Mr. Elsner, speaking guardedly, the way many of Miss Garbo's acquaintainces do. ''But the last time I saw her she looked fine.'' ''Does she seem happy?'' he was asked. ''As happy as ever,'' he replied. ''Is she lonely?'' ''I don't know.'' The enigma of Miss Garbo endures. She has not made a movie since 1941 but news of her comings and goings are seized like rare coins. She has lived in New York for more than 35 years in an apartment on East 52d Street overlooking the East River, and from time to time there are sightings of her (some accurate, some not) on Fifth Avenue, at the Swedish Book Nook at 235 East 81st Street, with a neighbor's dog. Photographers lie in wait to catch that severe but sensuous face with all its contradictions. When they do, it is virtually never without the omnipresent trademark: the hat.

Tribute From a Diplomat Many have given up trying to pursue the elusive film star, who thrilled fans with her sultry voice, when she finally spoke up in ''Anna Christie'' (1930) and perpetually intrigued them with revivals of ''The Torrent'' (1926), ''Mata Hari'' (1932), ''Queen Christina'' (1933), ''Two Faced Woman'' (1941) and so many of her other films. The Swedish Consul General, who is an avid fan, said he has always wanted to meet Miss Garbo but the closest he came was several weeks ago when Mr. Faxen said his wife thought she spotted the actress on a street corner. However daunted, Mr. Faxen could not contain his admiration, knowing it was such an important birthday. He sent flowers. But - some 59 years after Miss Garbo delighted moviegoers in her first film with that face, that intriguing face filled at once with flamboyance and sadness - the mysterious lady remains as she has always been.

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