Gayelord Hauser, the famous dietician of Hollywood, had a beautiful villa in Taormina, in the south island of Sicily in Italy, where often were invited nobilty, barons, actresses, painters, musicians and famous writers. Among the guests were often seen Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Gloria Vanderbilt , Marlene Dietrich and of course his close friend Greta Garbo.
Greta Garbo would come in Taormina under her usual name Miss Harriet Brown. Someone knew she was Garbo: among the others, the waiter-driver of Hauser and the art dealer Giovanni Panarello, whose shop Garbo often visited. But even if they knew her real identity, those people pretended they did not know who she was.
From 1950 to 1979 Taormina was her secret refuge, a place where this wonderful „alabaster statue" - one of the most beautiful temptresses of the screen - had a strange bond with the famous doctor that in Hollywood taught her to eat molasses and raw celery.
The first time she went in Taormina was in 1950. The driver of Hauser remembers: "I went to take her at the airport with doctor Hauser. I did not know who she was, the doctor told me she was Harriet Brown . They embraced each other, in the airport and all the way home from Catania to Taormina: they were very close friends.
She lived in two private rooms of the villa: a bedroom and a little living room. She even had her own terrace, hidden and secluded. She did not like sun, I never saw her in a bathing suit. She did not like the sea. When the doctor sold this house and bought a new one by the sea, she did not change her habit: She stayed secluded in her terrace."
She usually arrived in Taormina in spring-time, sometimes in winter - never in the summer. The driver of Hauser recalls: "She was very pale, she adventured in the little paths up to Castelmola, all-alone, and she was happy she wasn't recognized by people. She liked to speak with the fishermen of the place. Doctor Hauser told her that nobody in the villa knew who she was but in the reality we all knew - many friends of the doctor knew - but we all pretended we didn't know. I remember that a reporter came at the villa once and asked about Garbo something.
He came in but Gayelord Hauser, very kindly, told him with a disarming smile: ‘Garbo? Here? I have never seen her here!'. The reporter went away and she refused to get out for almost three weeks. The lady was always scared to death to meet the reporters".
The last time Garbo came in Taormina was in 1979, the year Hauser sold his villa in Letojanni. He sold it with great sadness after his boy-friend Frey Brown passed away. Brown was younger than Hauser. He was a promising actor but had left his career to come to stay in Taormina with Hauser.
Hauser said that he had too many memories from the past spent in the villa with his friend. Without Frey Brown it was impossible to lead the same life. Hauser retired in Los Angeles and lived there until his death in 1983. He was 89.
Greta was a friend of Frey. She spent a great deal of time with him, expecially in the night, when Hauser used to invite people in his house. Miss Harriet Brown did not want to see anyone. She rarely was seen in the saloon: once to meet an English art-dealer from London, a close friend of Garbo. Another time when Hauser held a great party in honour of Gloria Vanderbilt. But she refused to entertain other famous celebrities: Marlene Dietrich, Rita Hayworth, Joan Crawford.
Truman Capote said about Garbo: "Garbo was a good actress, a clever actress? Who cares. She has an extraordinary face and that's enough".