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.

Swedish icons 2: Ingrid Bergman

Swedish actor Ingrid Bergman is considered one of Sweden’s best, and most famous, actors ever. Born in 1915 in Stockholm, she moved to USA in 1939 and took the world by storm. Her poise, her beauty and her talent were showcased in classic films such as Casablanca, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Notorious and The Bells of St Mary’s.

The mother of actor Isabella Rossellini, Ingrid Bergman was highly decorated, winning three Oscars for best actress in Gaslight and Anastasia and for supporting actress in Murder on the Orient Express. She has been described by the American Film Institute as one of the world’s Top 50 most significant actors throughout history.

Ingrid Bergman died of breast cancer in 1982 in London and she is buried in Stockholm.

Swedish Icons 1: Anita Ekberg

Swede Anita Ekberg, from Malmö in Skåne, played an iconic leading role in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1961). She is notably remembered for the scene where she bathed in la Fontana di Trevi. Born in 1931, she won the Miss Sweden title at the age of 20, and then went to USA to compete in Miss Universe. Although she didn’t win, she worked as a model and a hostess and got small film roles.

She was famously opinionated and refused to change her surname saying that if she became famous everybody would learn her name, and if she didn’t it wouldn’t matter.

Ekberg appeared in many films, but interestingly never a Swedish one. She retired from acting in 2002 and died in 2015 at age 83 in Rome.