Books on Tape. Dec. 2021. 11:22 hrs. ISBN 9780593553923. $95. BIOG
Greta Garbo quickly gained notice in her native Sweden in the early 1920s, in a few films and promotional commercials for local department stores. She and her mentor, Mauritz Stiller, were sent to Hollywood at the request of Louis B. Mayer. Garbo shot to fame with her first silent film, and she reigned supreme at the MGM Studios for 15 years before her abrupt retirement in 1941. She would never grace the screen again. Her mystique was enhanced by her aloofness and an icy hostility to anyone who tried to approach her. She lived until the age of 90 and was frequently spotted walking the streets of New York City. Gottleib’s (George Balanchine) entertaining book is part biography and part critical assessment, as well as an analysis of Garbo’s cryptic persona (his witty personal comments are also entertaining). The last part of the book includes snippets of observations from other books as well as full articles by the likes of Kenneth Tynan, Lili Palmer, and fan magazine reporter Harriet Parsons. Actress Maria Tucci, who is married to the author, narrates. Her resonant delivery is perfect for the material.
VERDICT An engrossing biography of a cinema icon, not to be missed by fans of classic Hollywood.
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