GRETA GARBO has found love at last. The First Lady of Filmdom, who knew unfaltering devotion through her affection for the late Mauritz Stiller, and who learned of the gayness of light romance from the impetuous John Gilbert, now realizes, for the first time, the true meaning of love.
Garbo herself has said, “Love is not really dramatic. It is what is behind love and romance that gives us the greatest emotion. I don't know what the greatest emotion really is. Perhaps it is sacrifice. That is, of course, a big part of love.”
And if sacrifice is needed as proof of her present deep affection, it is evident. For, she has tossed aside her most important personal possession–her dearly valued privacy–in defense of her feeling for he famed musician, Leopold Stokowski.
Yes, Greta Garbo faced a battery of inquisitive reporters in Ravello, recently, and confided that her famous companion in their Italian retreat had offered to show her some of the beauty of the world. The fact that the woman more men have dreamed of knowing than any other accepted the offer seems proof enough of her great love for the man whose association she has secret enjoyed these many months.
Garbo's very intimates have actually thrilled to her newfound peace and contentment, for her life has been punctuated with unhappiness and disaster. She has known frustration and loneliness such as has been the lot of few people. She has met disillusionment through trust, and loss through death. She has felt the cutting pain of broken confidences, and the deep, dull ache at the removal of those few who have been near and dear to her.
No, Greta Garbo's personal life has not been an enviable one. But she has hidden the wounds from the eyes of the world just as she has sought to keep her personal activities to herself. And so, it is only just and right that she should at last find her measure of contentment and happiness.
The first inkling that her close friends had that her attachment for Stokowski was a real and important one was when he brought Deanna Durbin, in whose picture he was appearing, to see Garbo. He had talked often of this amazing child and Garbo soon expressed a desire to meet her and hear her sing. Word of the visit leaked out somehow and accounted for Stokowski's absence from musical and the more exclusive social circles of filmdom. He was spending his free time in the company of Greta Garbo.
The musician's recent divorce from his second wife only served to add fuel to the flame of speculation and tended to prove that he and Garbo had plans for a permanent companionship. The fact that Stokowski has been accused of being a publicity-seeker and that, in this particular instance, no one could pry from him a word as the progress of his friendship with the most famous of movie stars, served again to give credence to his sincerity toward their romance.
AT ANY rate, when all the speculation is over and done with, one salient fact remains and that is that Garbo and Stokowski have an “understanding,” that he has brought her happiness and love and that she would rather be in his company than is anyone's else in the world. Yes, while Garbo's cry has hitherto been that she wanted to be alone, it is now that she wants to be alone with the one man in the world who really matters to her.
Independence has somehow always been forced upon this great actress; That is, with the exception of her association with the late Mauritz Stiller. She learned to depend upon his affection, rely upon his judgment. His devotion was the nearest approach to security she has ever known–until now. No, Greta Garbo has not wanted to be “master of her fate and captain of her soul,” although circumstances have often seemed to tend to make her self-sufficient. Indeed, she is fundamentally the “clinging vine,” the woman who prefers seclusion and the devotion of a man whom she can love and respect.
It seems as if, at last, this man has arrived and Greta Garbo has taken, and plans to hold, the joy that she has long been deprived of. To thoroughly enjoy the complete companionship of the man she loves satisfies her at the moment. Dwelling near him in a flower-decked villa by the sea, with time to revel in his company, is more bliss than she has believed ever could be hers. And yet, she is timid about announcing her new-found happiness to the world. She continues to hide her love behind works like friendship and companionship. Is it because she feels that to confide her feeling would be to lose her chance of its continuance? Perhaps.
And, as we go to press, word comes to us that Garbo and Stokowski have silently stolen away from their retreat in Ravello and have moved on to Taormina, a seaside village in Sicily. Rumor is rife that here, under the shadow of the ever-smoking volcano, Mount Etna, they will be married.
Whether they will or not, only time will tell, but the fact remains that Greta Garbo has found love, which she always feared was not in store for her. And, knowing values as she does, it is our guess that she will keep it, and our wish that she will find continued happiness in the companionship of the man she loves–Leopold Stokowski.
from: Modern Screen June 1938
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