THE ONLY TRUE STORY OF GRETA GARBO’S PRIVATE LIFE by Sven-Hugo Borg
TERRIFIC LOVE SCENES
THE romance of Garbo and Gilbert began with those terrific love scenes in “Love” in which they were first thrown together. No sooner had those love scenes begun to be filmed than the entire studio was rife with gossip. Even the Director was amazed at the passion, the feeling, that Garbo put into those embraces.
I could easily see that Gilbert, even in the mock passion of the screen, had aroused something in Garbo never awakened before. A lesser man than Gilbert would have fallen under that barrage of passion.
As the picture progressed, their performance became stark, bare realism. Eddie Goulding was in ecstasy over their work He caught the significance of it and encouraged it. With arms tightly wound about each other, the two would often fail to hear the word “ Cut,” and remain locked in a fond embrace, even after the cameras had ceased grinding, much to the astonishment of everyone on the set.
Garbo and Gilbert appeared not to care a whoop that others had discerned theft secret. One day a publicity man said to me: “Well, Borg, here’s copy, and what copy! Studio romance flaming and headlines everywhere.”
“And you know what Miss Garbo will think about that,” I said. “Aw, get Americanized,” he snarled. “All you Swedes are alike. John is a fast worker, and with scenes like that, what could you expect?”
Garbo, when she was not in Gilbert’s arms, was distraught. She began to worry about Stiller.
“Oh, what will Mauritz say, Borg ? “ she would wail. “ What will he think?”
But when the script called for another love scene, she forgot her fears.
Until this time, Garbo had not mingled socially with anyone. Now she began to go out, now and then, with Gilbert. She still lived at the Miramar, and Gilbert had a beautiful swimming pool. A special room was prepared for her in Gilbert’s house so that she might change her garments undisturbed when she chose to use the pool. During this period Garbo was another girl. She used to laugh and joke with me and dance like a kid out of school.
”What do you think now, Borg?“ she would ask.
”I think it is good for you to mingle with young people and play,” I would tell her. Often when she had an engagement with Gilbert, she would say to me:
“Borg, you must find a way—you know what I mean—an excuse to give Stiller. I promised to join Jack this evening.”
“Why not tell Stiller that you are detained at the studio to make retakes? “I would tell her.
“Not so bad, Borg, not so bad,” she would say, tapping her front teeth with her fingernail, as she frowned “ but what if he finds out?”
“But how is he to find out ?“ I asked.
“Oh, well,” she would say, throwing herself into the big leather chair which was in her apartment, “ no matter what the consequences, I must keep my word to Jack.”
I would get Stiller on the ‘phone and explain that Greta had been detained at the studio. He would grunt and hang up. One night Gilbert gave a huge party. Garbo, sulking in her room, refused to come
down and join the guests. John, exasperated at last, went up after her. Furiously he pounded at her door.
“Go away like a good boy,” she told him. “I want to sleep.”
Jack pounded and pounded, but she would
not come out. Then, with furious stride, he stalked downstairs, out of doors, and climbed into his car. He roared away, taking the corner on two wheels.
A motor cop soon stopped his headlong flight, and Jack was detained. There was a great deal of publicity about it, but Jack was at last released. It looked as if the romance was over, but one day at lunch Garbo said to me:
”Borg, go down to Jack’s dressing-room and talk to him.”
I knew what she meant, for he had not been in touch with her. I went down.
Jack had come to the studio in an angry frame of mind. Eyeing me, he no doubt anticipated the purpose of my call, for he shouted:
“You go back and tell her she is the cause of the whole damn thing. I never want to see her again!”
I knew, of course, that he referred to his arrest and all his trouble with the police, but I said quietly as I stepped inside the dressing-room:
“If you don’t mind, I’ll close the door. We have an audience up the street.”
Up the studio street, a group of people had formed, waiting for the fun. Jack glared at me, but I continued:
”If anyone knows the facts, and I do, I consider what you have just said unjust and unfair. You know you didn’t mean a word of it. What is the trouble, anyhow?"
“Oh, what’s the use discussing it ! “ Jack strode up and down the floor like a caged animal. Suddenly he sank into a chair and buried his face into his hands.
”But, oh, Borg, I’m awfully sorry, really I am!”
At this moment someone knocked on the door. Like a tiger he sprang to open it. On the step, smiling, stood Garbo. Jack stood back and, as she entered, I discreetly slipped out and softly closed the door behind me.
GARBO and Gilbert had their brief hour of romance. It is my belief that Jack often pleaded with her to marry him, but I am equally sure that Garbo never, at any time, considered the idea.
Stiller’s influence, while no longer in complete control a of old, ras. .still on Garbo. He had convinced her that she was a great actress, another Bemhardt or Duse of the screen. He had taught her to taste the sweets of life, but not to let entanglements ruin her career, and she had no intention of so doing, no matter how much she loved Gilbert.
Stiller had, at this time, been assigned to direct pictures at the Paramount studio. He had become even more morose, more brooding than ever. People have said that Stiller died of a broken heart, because of his unrequited love for Garbo, who preferred to remain in the Hollywood which would not have him, rather than return to Sweden with him.
But even during her romance with Gilbert, Garbo spent considerable time with Stiller. She would go to his apartment, sit on his lap and smoke the cigarette from his mouth, taking it away from him for a puff with coquettish little giggles. At those times she would talk to Stiller about her problems and he would advise her. If Garbo was ever in love with Stiller, it was a love entirely different from that she gave to Gilbert.
Stiller grieved as he saw Garbo climbing to the heights without him. She was the lovely thing whom his mind had created and who had outgrown her creator. If Stiller died of a broken heart, it was because of this, not because of love for Garbo.