Greta Garbo said “I want to be left alone” on the big screen – but her grandnephew insisted that in real life, the Hollywood recluse wasn’t so isolated.
“I wouldn’t call her a recluse,” Derek Reisfield recently told Closer Weekly for his latest issue now on newsstands.
“If you look at her calendars, she’s on the move, meeting people, going to parties, going to people’s homes for the weekend,” he explained. “She was private… but for a recluse, she had a very active social life. I forgot who said it, but someone called her ‘the hermit of the city’. “
Reisfield’s mother, Gray Gustafson Reisfield, was the only daughter of the star’s brother, Sven. She was the sole heir to her famous aunt’s estate and a woman who was a longtime companion of the late Swedish-born actress.
“When I moved to New York City after school, I lived about five blocks from her, so I saw her a lot,” Reisfield recalled at the outlet. ” [Family and friends] all got together at five for a cocktail in his apartment, then [we’d go] at dinners or a play or whatever we did. It was a weekly event, and it was a lot of fun. He was a remarkable person. She was very intuitive, very intelligent and extremely funny. “
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Garbo, one of Hollywood’s most sought-after stars of the 1930s, retired temporarily at age 36 after her last film, “Two-Faced Woman” of 1941. She previously starred in 26 films in 17 years . However, the New York Times reported that the actress never returned to the screen.
Garbo was known for her performances in classics such as “Anna Christie”, “Grand Hotel”, Queen Christina “, Anna Karenina”, “Camille” and “Ninotchka”. She had a major influence on women’s fashion, hairstyles and makeup.
But even at the height of her career, Garbo was known for her deep fear of journalists and strangers. Ironically, Garbo has become one of the most publicized women in the world while trying to protect her privacy.
Her biographer John Bainbridge wrote in “Garbo” that with the exception of the early days of her career she “did not give any interviews, did not sign any autographs, did not attend any premieres, did not attend any premieres. responded to no fan mail ”.
Reisfield said when it came to his closest confidants, Garbo had stories to tell.
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“She would sometimes start talking about Hollywood in the past and the people she met and dated,” he said. “… She’s had a lot of important relationships over the years. “
Reisfield also insisted that Garbo “was quite happy” to move away from Hollywood. His mother, in particular, developed a close bond with Garbo.
” She saw [Garbo] like a truly remarkable woman, ”Reisfield told The Associated Press upon the matriarch’s death in 2017 at the age of 85. “I think my mom really respected her because she had accomplished so much, and she had done it in her own way. She was very independent when women weren’t, and I think that was a real lesson for my mother. “
At the time, Reisfield said he was around 12 when he realized his great-aunt was famous after seeing a magazine that showed his mother and Garbo vacationing together. Each spring, women traveled to the Caribbean.
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“My mother was very close to [Garbo] and would go to New York once a week to see her, ”Reisfield said. “They were both very strong and very independent women, and I think they bonded because of that. “
After leaving Hollywood, Garbo spent the rest of his life in fenced residences in France, Switzerland and New York. The actress never married and did not have children, but instead chose her niece as her frequent companion.
Garbo died in 1990 at the age of 84.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.