THE ONLY TRUE STORY OF GRETA GARBO’S PRIVATE LIFE by Sven-Hugo Borg
THE “MYSTERIOUS” STAR
TOUCHING briefly upon the mystery of Garbo, I think, perhaps, I was the first to suggest that she capitalize upon the fact that she liked seclusion and privacy. As we lay on the beach at Santa Monica one day I said to her: ”I know you are not acting, Greta, when you hide from people; but, just the same, it is something that fits your personality to be mysterious and secretive. By playing up to it you will kill two birds with one stone you will get your privacy and also get people talking about you.”
”You think so, Borg?” she said slowly. “Yes, maybe it is a good idea.”
Those long, lazy afternoons on the beach were the only times I have ever seen Garbo truly relax and be herself. She used to run along the sand, sing and dance like a child. One day she stopped suddenly and pointed. I noticed that two people had come out of one of the big beach houses and were watching her.
“Who are they, Borg?” she whispered. “Do you know them?”
“Yes,” I said. “That is Norma Talmadge and Gilbert Roland.”
“Oh, Borg, it is terrible! “she wailed. ”They will think I am crazy.”
“On the contrary, Greta,” I replied, “they probably envy you your happiness.” But after that she never danced or sang on the beach again. Garbo was on one occasion the guest of a noted English actor. After greetings and introductions had been exchanged, he said:
“Miss Garbo, would you like a cocktail? The answer was “ No-o.”
“Would you like a glass of lemonade?”
The actor was stunned, but, being a gracious host, he continued:
“Would you have a cigarette?”
”No-o-o-o! “was still the same answer.
Suddenly his voice rose and he exclaimed:
“Well then, Miss Garbo, may I fry you an egg?"
The polished actor had given up, but, of course, the laugh was on Garbo. Again in The Temptress, Garbo clicked, as they say. Her fame spread. She was the sensation of the studio, and Metro decided that for her next leading man she deserved none other than “ the ace of the lot “—John Gilbert. They were cast as lovers in Love (Anna Karenina) and out of that picture came not only another screen triumph for Garbo, but the flowering of what I believe to have been the only real love of her life.
GARBO AND GILBERT
THIS is not a history of Garbo’s life. It is merely the attempt of a man who knew her intimately to draw aside the curtain of mystery which has surrounded her strange personality. Many others have written of Garbo’s life in Hollywood. Chronologically, they have been correct. I write as one who knew her better, perhaps, even than Stiller, for Stiller was her master, and considered her always as his protégée.
I believe, with all my heart, that John Gilbert is the only man who ever touched the deep wells of passionate emotion which lie buried deep in the breast of Garbo. She loved John Gilbert, passionately, devotedly—but that love hurt Garbo, and she gave him up.
But let me explain. There was never any thought of marriage between them in Garbo’s mind. Not to Gilbert. In his passionate embraces on the set she found the awakening that her own strange nature had hit her to denied her. She was like a child in her happiness, but when she found, as most of us have, that love is no smooth sea, she pot it aside, preferring the tranquility of her own existence to the stormy seas of love.
Stiller was a cynic, a sophisticated man of the world. He often used to say to her: “Greta, it is good to taste of life, but be careful do not let it hurt you and destroy you.’’
Garbo tried in many ways, at first, to keep her romance with Gilbert hidden from Stiller, who, I shall always believe, knew of it from the first, and chuckled his deep, throaty chuckle as he thought of his protégée, his untried little dove, testing her wings on the currents of life.
He was too deep, too secretive, too sophisticated to show jealousy, and it was easy to see that he penetrated the subterfuges with which Garbo sought to hide her romance from his