On Nov. 27, 1929, three years after Greta Garbo’s American film debut, Variety described her as “the most mysterious of Hollywood stars.” More than 50 years later, in 1981, a Variety story began “Given that Greta Garbo still remains the most elusive, mysterious and speculated about film personality on the planet…”
It’s rare for any star to maintain public interest for so long. And it’s especially notable that she maintained interest, even decades after her final film, by trying to avoid attention.
In a career of only 15 years, Garbo gave fans her acting talent but nothing of herself — no details of her life, never addressing rumors or speculation. In a brief 1929 item, Variety said “Practically nothing has ever been known personally about Miss Garbo, she being a publicity-shunner and the toughest of all stars to interview.” In her heyday, she had as much impact on fashion and daydreams as Lady Gaga and Beyonce, but she was their polar opposite: She never courted publicity. And her aloof attitude made her even more fascinating.