Swedish icons 3: Greta Garbo

I can’t write a series about Swedish icons without mentioning Greta Garbo, perhaps the most famous Swedish film star of all time.

Born Greta Gustafsson in Stockholm in 1905, she first rose to international fame in the silent movies of the 1920’s. In 1930, she made a successful transition into talkies, in the film Anna Christie, which was marketed under the slogan ‘Garbo talks!’ Her first line was an iconic ‘Give me a whisky, ginger ale on the side, and don’t be stingy baby’, which was delivered with a deliberately heavy and husky Swedish accent.

She appeared in classic films such as ‘Queen Christina’, ‘Anna Karenina’, ‘Mata Hari’ and ‘Camille’. Noted for her flawless beauty, cool persona and melancholy, she retired from the screen aged 35. For the rest of her life, she lived as a recluse, which passingly echoed her most famous film line from Grand Hotel – ‘I want to be alone’.

Garbo died in 1990, and her ashes are interred in Stockholm. In the Stockholm neighbourhood of Södermalm, there is a square called Greta Garbo Square, not far from where she was born.

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