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Alva Maria Gustafson
(Greta's sister)


Alva Maria was the second child of Greta's parents. She was born on September 20, 1903. After her birth the Gustafssons moved into a building at Blekingegatan 32 in Södermalm (Stockholm/Sweden). The modest fourth-floor tenement was small but comfortable by city standards. As Alva got older, she looked more and more like her mother – but she was, perhaps not so secretly, her father's little girl and shared his same sense of fun. Greta was very fond of her older sister, whom she referred to as “Lillan,” little one.

On the twenty-first of April 1926, Greta received perhaps the worst news of her life: her sister, Alva, had succumbed to lymphatic cancer; she was twenty-two years old. She had been taken to Sofiahemmet, a nursing home in Södermalm, where she slipped away quickly, silently, and without another word to her adoring sister.

“That is the hardest,” Greta said. “To be so far away when something happens. Your own flesh and blood – I couldn't understand. She had always been so healthy. She was so beautiful. Then she got sick – just a little sick ...”

Alva was only 23 years old whe she died.

The Alva Maria facts-summary

Original Name
Alva Maria Gustafsson


Date of Birth
September 20, 1903

Place of Birth
Sädra Maternity Hospital/Stockholm

Alva 1924


In 1919, Alva studied shorthand while working in an insurance office as a stenographer. She even starred as an extra in movies. Alva also starred as an extra in Films.

Alva and her mother

Date of Death
April 21, 1926

Alva ca. 1926

Place of Death
Södermalm/ Stockholm/Sweden

Alva's "soap" Advertising Advertising picture, 1924.

Course of Death
Lymphatic cancer

Her Father
Karl Alfred Gustafsson

Her Mother
Anna Lovisa Karlson

Her Brothers and Sisters
 Sven Alfred (1898) and Greta Lovisa (1905)

Alva with 11 years

The Alva Maria trivia

 For decades it was reported that she died of tuberculosis. Other sources wrote that she died of cancer.
     Family members say was aggravated by a blow to the chest from an abusive boyfriend.

 As Alva got older, she looked more and more like her mother.

 It is said that she shared the same sense of fun like her father.

 A friend of Alva's also worked at the PUB.

 She and Greta worked as extras in a motion picture entitled En lyckoriddare (1921).

 Alva worshipped Greta very much and helped her with money whenever she could.

 Garbo was in Hollywood, filming the TheTemptress, when she heard the news that Alva died.

 She died in Sofiahemmet, a nursing home in Södermalm.


The number one source for this Timeline is Karen Swenson's 1997 released Garbo biography Greta Garbo: A Life Apart. This is the best and most accurate book about Garbos-Life.

There's so much information in A Life Apart. Some of it is more subtle, correcting factual errors from other books and re-positioning popular myths. Unfortunately the book is only released in English-language.

More Family Related Pictures
Click  HERE!
Alva's Films
Alva made two films En Lyckoriddare (Sweden 1921) & Två konungar (Sweden 1925).
The Films of Alva Garbo 
The Gustafson's - Introduction
Karl Alfred Gustason 
Anna Lovisa Gustafon 
Sven Alfred Gustafson 
Alva Maria Gustafson 


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