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Garbo in Color


For the people in the 1920s,1930s and 1940s, the “Garbo mystique” was only known in moody contrasts of black, white & gray. It was a long and very expensive process to do a color picture back in the 1930s and 1940s. Many don't know that some Garbo color pics exist, here is a list of the photos she officially made in color.

1. Candid shots made by Paparazzi's (shot from the late 1960s to 1980s)

2.  Private Garbo pictures in color (shot from the late 1960s to 1980s)
     Those pics are made by friends and Greta knew, that she was photographed.

3. Professional and official color pictures were taken in 1936 (Camille)
     & 1941 (Two-Faced Woman).

4. A whole colour photo session was done in 1952 by photographer A. Beauchamp.


Camille Portrait, 1936 by C.S. Bull

Garbo's eyes in real color

This is the first picture that showed Garbo in colour. The authentic color photograph was reproduced in the book Hollywood Color Portraits by John Kobal and published in 1981.

Kobal wrote: "One of only four color stills cameras in Hollywood belonged to MGM, where Clarence Sinclair Bull took the first color portraits of Greta Garbo in costume for her role as Marguerite Gautier in Camille."

Best HQ version we ever saw. Even though,
Color was restored in this version made
ca. early 2000s by Mark A. Vieira

A color photograph wasn't planned at all. During a photo session for Camille in 1936, photographer Clarence Sinclair Bull suggested a color photo shot to Garbo. Making such a photo was hard work and Greta had to sit still for a couple of minutes but the result was a sensation. The world could finally see Garbo's pale blue eyes.

So, who photographed her here? John Kobal claims that it was taken on the set by photographer Grimes. We talked with author Mark A. Vieira (Greta Garbo: A Cinematic Legacy) and he said that this was definitely shot by Clarence Bull on November 23, 1936, not by William Grimes.

It was shot with the 5 x 7 Grumbacher camera,, so there were in fact three negatives, one for each primary color. That's how it worked, like Technicolor.

Picture from the book:
The Man Who Shot Garbo: The Hollywood
Photographs of Clarence Sinclair Bull

C.S. Bull's personal and original 16 x 20 print is at the Kobal Collection in London/England. John Kobal bought everything from Jeanne Bull after the photographer died and published portraits in his 1981 and 1989 books.

Garbo, Taylor and Crew: Production Still, 1936 by C.S. Bull

This famous ‘on the set’ picture from Camille was also taken by Clarence Sinclair Bull as stated in the description in the book.

Garbo in costume: Production Still, 1936 by William Grimes


This is also true color. Mark A. Vieira confirmed this in August 2014.  It was made by William Grimes on the set with the 5x7 Grumbacher camera, as were the Camille production still. I personally think, that Grimes made even some more.

Second Camille Portrait: Authentic or colorized?

For nearly 10 years we were asked if this Bull portrait is an authentic color photograph. Mr. Vieira confirmed in August 2014, that it was colorized with Marshall Photo Oils.


Conquest Still, 1937 by William Grimes

It was also made by Grimes on the set with the 5x7 Grumbacher camera. The photo was shoot during the big polka rehearsal of the film. The photo was reproduced in the book Hollywood Color Portraits by John Kobal and published in 1981.


Two-Faced Woman Portrait, 1941 by C.S. Bull

The second time Garbo was shot in colour was for the Two-Faced Woman photo session on October 3, 1941. Photographer Clarence Sinclair Bull asked Garbo to do another photo in colour. This session was Greta's last photo session for MGM.

You can get a copy from the original negative at They sell Cibachrome prints of the color portrait. These are made from an original un-retouched transparency.


  Anthony Beauchamp 1951


Photographer Beauchamp asked Garbo to do her first photo session in colour. The result were several stunning colour portraits, shot in California 1951.


Garbo Private in Color, Paris/France on July 1958

Garbo doing window shopping in Paris. Dated: July 30th,1958


Garbo Private in Color, Europe ca. 1966

Garbo and either Baron Guy or Alain de Rotschild, Spain, ca. mid 1960s


Garbo and Rothschild. They were guests at a Garden Party of a spanish doctor in Spain.

Garbo Private in Color, Corsica/France, 1973

On a cruise with Cecile De Rothschild. Garbo did go to Europe that summer for a two-week cruise around Corsica with Cécile de Rothschild, Sam Green, and two new friends, Joseph and Caral Gimpel Lebworth.

Garbo was photographed freely by Green and Lebworth. 

Garbo Privat in color, Tunesia 1974


In 1974 Garbo made a trip to Tunisia with Carl Johan and Kerstin Bernadotte. Carl Johan Bernadotte made the photos.


Garbo Private in Color, Unknown ca. late 1970s

On a cruise with Sam Green. He also photographed her here.


Garbo candid moment in color, USA late 1970s

Garbo candid moment in color, France 1981/82


Garbo candid moment in color, New York, early 1980s


Garbo passport photo in color, 1984

This photograph has probably been Garbo's very last photo shot! Maybe it was taken in a public passport photograph booth or a friend has done the last camera shot with her permission.

Maybe she was responsible for her own makeup and hairstyle, an appropriate lighting was installed for her last passport photograph in 1984.  


Garbo: Did she ever do a color test on film?

We always get Emails from people saying that there was a color film test or they keep asking us about it. We again contacted Mark A. Vieira and he told us in August 2014 that this is not very likely!

If Technicolor tests were made at Universal for the cancelled Walter Wanger production (‘Lover and Friend’ aka ‘The Duchess de Langeais’), they would have been found with the other Walter Wanger tests (Howe, Daniels, Valentine). There was no color there. More info about it  HERE!

If such a thing existed, it would have turned up in some form. Frame enlargements from the Wanger tests started showing up more than thirty years ago. They were no secret.

So, now we have it confirmed. No color film tests were made.

Garbo, May 1949

Thanks to Mark



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