Garbo: A Biography

Barry Paris, Author Alfred A. Knopf $35 (654p) ISBN 978-0-394-58020-3
Greta Garbo's melancholy self-obsession, her paradoxical need to perform and withdraw, manifested themselves in her teens, shows Paris (Louise Brooks) in a moving biography that unearths connections between the private woman and the public actress. Recurring traumas of abandonment-the deaths of her father, Karl, a Stockholm landscapist, when she was 14, and of her beautiful actress sister Alva, victim of cancer at age 23-molded Garbo (1905-1990) into a high-strung, hypersensitive recluse pathologically afraid of betrayal, of commitment, of pregnancy, according to Paris. The Swedish sphinx moved to Hollywood in 1925 and became ``the sex fantasy of the century,'' an androgynous, exotic persona on whom millions projected their desires, yet, by this account, she was a largely celibate narcissist who longed for an idealized hearth and home. Garbo found a substitute family in the home of her closest friend, actress Salka Viertel, and this revealing biography, featuring 180 photographs woven into the narrative, draws on the 50-year Garbo-Viertel correspondence, on firsthand reminiscences and on Garbo's taped conversations with her confidante, New York City art dealer Sam Green, which fills in details of her last decades of self-imposed exile in Manhattan and trips abroad. Movie/Entertainment Book Club alternate; author tour. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1995
Release date: 02/01/1995
Paperback - 672 pages - 978-0-8166-4182-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-1135-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-4417-0094-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-4417-0097-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-4417-0096-4
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