Tuesday, February 9, 2010
GRETA QUITS AT TOP OF CAREER
By Luella O. Parsons
Hollywood, April 16, 1932
Only the news that King George had decided to hand over his throne to the handsome Prince Edward or that President Hoover had abdicated in favor of a Democrat could be as surprising as Greta Garbo’s determination to return to Sweden. At the height of her career, with the world at her feet and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ready to buy her the sun, moon and stars, Greta chucks it all. She has so often threatened her bosses with the simple sentence, “I go home,” when she has been annoyed, that at first no one paid any attention to her.
This time she isn’t annoyed. She is just tired of it all. She has saved her money while others were buying expensive clothes and giving Hollywood parties. She has enough money to live comfortably in her beloved Sweden and if the urge comes to return to the screen or stage, she can get herself a job in her own country.
ZENITH OF CAREER
Miss Garbo retired at a time when she is one of the greatest drawing cards in America. She is at the very zenith of her career. To the hundreds who have tried so hard to get a foothold it is almost beyond human understanding how she can toss it all overboard.
Yet Garbo has never enjoyed being a motion picture star. She has shunned the publicity, avoided the crowds and become the most noted recluse in all of pictureland.
More than anything else in the world, she wants a quiet place to live, a few friends and her chance to take walks without being pointed out by strangers and made to feel she is on exhibition.
Who will take her place? Where is there an actress who can occupy the throne she is so ruthlessly discarding? The next favorite will not be another Garbo. She will be a different type.
We have never had a successor to Rudolph Valentino. No actor ever took the place of Wallace Reid after he passed on. The public will not accept substitutes. But they will create new favorites with entirely different personalities.
Clark Gable comes the nearest to equaling the popularity of Rudolph Valentino but he and Rudy are not alike in any way. Writers tried in vain to point out resemblances but none exists. Rudy was the Latin type, a lover of beautiful art and rare editions. He was as impulsive as a child and as loveable. Clark Gable is less esthetic in his tastes. He has much more restraint and he is far more of a man’s man than Rudy.
Death has robbed the screen of several favorites when they were at their high tide of their popularity but Garbo is one of the few who has retired of her own volition. Marguerite Clark said au revoir to the screen after she married but she had a long and successful career both on the stage and screen. She was beginning to get tired of a career that had lasted so many years and marriage offered her a graceful exit.
Mary Anderson left the stage to marry the man she loved. She never returned although there were many stage producers who knocked at her door with amazing offers of stage plays. Although Miss Anderson’s retirement happened many years ago, she has always been quoted as the one actress who couldn’t be lured back to the footlights. Her successful marriage has become traditional.
THE FARRAR FAREWELL
Geraldine Farrar left the Metropolitan Opera stage at the height of her success. She did not retire because her voice had failed her or because she was broken down and old. I was at her farewell performance and she never sang better nor have I ever seen any star receive such an ovation. Society debutantes feted her with flowers, dowagers with all their jewels and ermine shouted “Bravo.” Oh, it was a grand and glorious farewell.
Maybe Greta Garbo wants her swan song to be sung with sweet music, not with harsh notes and bitter regrets. If she leave now the picture-going public will always remember her as the glamorous Garbo, mysterious and wonderful, and there will be no successor.