Garbo launched her career with a secondary role in the 1924 Swedish film The Saga of Gosta Berling. Her performance caught the attention of Louis B. Mayer, chief executive of Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), who brought her to Hollywood in 1925. She immediately stirred interest with her first silent film, Torrent, released in 1926; a year later, her performance in Flesh and the Devil, her third movie, made her an international star.
Garbo's first talking film was Anna Christie (1930). MGM marketers enticed the public with the catch-phrase "Garbo talks!" That same year she starred in Romance. For her performances in these films she received the first of three Academy Award nominations for Best Actress. Academy rules at the time allowed for a performer to receive a single nomination for their work in more than one film. In 1932, her popularity allowed her to dictate the terms of her contract and she became increasingly selective about her roles. Many critics and film historians consider her performance as the doomed courtesan Marguerite Gautier in Camille to be her finest. The role gained her a second Academy Award nomination. After working exclusively in dramatic films, Garbo turned to comedy with Ninotchka (1939), which earned her a third Academy Award nomination, and Two-Faced Woman (1941), her last film.
Mercedes de Acosta was an American poet, playwright, and novelist. She was professionally unsuccessful but is known for her many lesbian affairs with famous personalities and numerous friendships with prominent artists of the period. De Acosta's best-known relationship was with Greta Garbo. When Garbo's close friend, author Salka Viertel, introduced them in 1931, they quickly became involved. As their relationship developed, it became erratic and volatile, but they remained friends for 30 years.
In 1941, she retired at the age of 35 after appearing in twenty-eight films. Although she was offered many opportunities to return to the screen, she declined all of them. Instead, she lived a private life, shunning publicity. Garbo never married, had no children and lived alone as an adult. She was something of an art collector and her art collection was worth millions at the time of her death.
Garbo never married, had no children, and lived alone as an adult. Her most famous romance was with her frequent co-star, John Gilbert, with whom she lived intermittently in 1926 and 1927. MGM capitalized on her relationship with Gilbert after their huge hit, Flesh and the Devil by costarring them again in two more hits, Love (1927) and A Woman of Affairs (1928). Gilbert allegedly proposed to her numerous times. Legend has it that when a double marriage was arranged in 1926 (with Eleanor Boardman and King Vidor), Garbo failed to appear at the ceremony. Her recent biographers, however, question the veracity of this story. In 1937, she met conductor Leopold Stokowski with whom she had a highly publicized friendship or romance while traveling throughout Europe the following year. In his diary, Erich Maria Remarque discusses a liaison with Garbo in 1941 and in his memoir, Cecil Beaton described an affair with her in 1947 and 1948. In 1940, she met the Russian-born millionaire, George Schlee, who was married to fashion designer Valentina. Schlee, who split his time between the two, became Garbo's close companion and advisor until his death in 1964.
Recent biographers and others believe that Garbo was bisexual and that she had intimate relationships with women as well as with men. In 1927, Garbo was introduced to stage and screen actress Lilyan Tashman and evidence indicates that the two began an affair; silent film star Louise Brooks stated that she and Garbo had a brief liaison the following year. In 1931, Garbo befriended the writer and avowed lesbian Mercedes de Acosta, introduced to her by her close friend Salka Viertel, and, according to Garbo's and de Acosta's biographers, began a sporadic and volatile romance. The two remained friends—with ups and downs—for almost thirty years during which time Garbo wrote de Acosta 181 letters, cards, and telegrams which are kept at the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia. Garbo's family, which controls her estate, has made only 87 of them available to the public. In 2005 sixty letters from Garbo to Swedish actress Mimi Pollak, a close friend in drama school, were released. Several letters indicate that she had romantic feelings for Pollak for many years. After learning of Pollak's pregnancy in 1930, for example, Garbo wrote, "We cannot help our nature, as God has created it. But I have always thought you and I belonged together." In 1975, she wrote a poem about not being able to touch the hand of her friend with whom she might have been walking through life.
Mercedes de Acosta (March 1, 1893 – May 9, 1968) was an American poet, playwright, and novelist. Four of de Acosta's plays were produced, and she published a novel and three volumes of poetry. She was professionally unsuccessful but is known for her many lesbian affairs with famous Broadway and Hollywood personalities and numerous friendships with prominent artists of the period.
She was born in New York City in 1893. Her father, Ricardo de Acosta, was Cuban and of Spanish descent while her mother, Micaela Hernandez de Alba y de Alba, was Spanish and reportedly a descendant of the Spanish Dukes of Alba. De Acosta had several siblings: Aida, Ricardo Jr., Angela, Maria, and Rita. Maria married socially prominent A. Robeson Sargent, the Harvard-educated landscape architect and son of Charles Sprague Sargent. Rita would become a famous beauty best known as Rita Lydig. She was photographed by Adolf de Meyer, Edward Steichen, and Gertrude Käsebier, sculpted in alabaster by Malvina Hoffman, and painted by Giovanni Boldini and John Singer Sargent, among others. She also wrote one novel, Tragic Mansions (Boni & Liveright, 1927), under the name Mrs Philip Lydig, a society melodrama described as "emotionally moving and appealing" by The New York Times. De Acosta attended elementary school at the Covenant of the Blessed Sacrement on West 79th Street in Manhattan where Dorothy Parker was a classmate.
De Acosta married painter Abram Poole (January 1883 Chicago, Illinois – May 24, 1961) in 1920. They divorced in 1935.
De Acosta was involved in numerous lesbian relationships with Broadway’s and Hollywood's elite and did not attempt to hide her sexuality, which was rare in her generation. In 1916 she began an affair with actress Alla Nazimova and later with dancer Isadora Duncan. Shortly after marrying Abram Poole in 1920, de Acosta became involved in a five-year relationship with actress Eva Le Gallienne. The two women vacationed and traveled together often. De Acosta wrote two plays for Le Gallienne, Sandro Botticelli and Jehanne de Arc. After the financial failures of both plays, they mutually ended their relationship. (Picture: Alla Nazimova)
Over the next decade she had romances with several famous actresses and dancers including Pola Negri, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Ona Munson, and Russian ballerina Tamara Platonovna Karsavina. Additional unsubstantiated rumors include Eleonora Duse, Katherine Cornell, and Alice B. Toklas. (Picture: Isadora Duncan)
De Acosta's best-known relationship was with Greta Garbo. In 1931, they were introduced by Garbo's friend, author Salka Viertel, and quickly became involved. Their relationship was sporadic and volatile with Garbo always in control. The two were very close for lengthy periods and then apart for periods when Garbo, annoyed by Mercedes' obsession, coupled with her own neuroses, ignored her. It is thought that de Acosta remained in love with Garbo for the rest of her life but it is doubtful that Garbo shared these feelings. In any case, they remained friends for thirty years during which time Garbo wrote de Acosta 181 letters, cards, and telegrams. (Picture: Pola Negri)
Although it has been argued that no proof of a romance between them exists, it is assumed by Garbo's and de Acosta's recent biographers. Because she was destitute in 1959, de Acosta sold her papers to the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia and claims to have reluctantly included the love letters she received. "I would not have had the heart or courage to have burned these letters", she wrote William McCarthy, curator of the museum. "I mean, of course, Eva, Greta’s and Marlene’s who were lovers.... I only hope...they will be respected and protected from the eyes of vulgar people. Garbo's letters to de Acosta were made available to the public in 2000, ten years after Garbo's death as de Acosta requested, and included no love letters. It should be noted that Garbo’s family, who control her estate, have allowed only 87 of the letters, cards, and telegrams to be released. (Picture: Eva Le Gallienne)
In the early 1930s de Acosta developed an interest in Hinduism and was encouraged to seek out Indian mystic Meher Baba when he arrived in Hollywood. For several years she was captivated by his philosophy and methods and he often gave her advice about ways to address her problems. Later, she studied the philosophy of Hindu sage Ramana Maharishi who introduced her to yoga, meditation, and other spiritual practices she hoped would help ease her suffering. In 1938, she met Hindu dancer Ram Gopal in Hollywood. They immediately established a rapport and became close lifelong friends. Later that year they traveled to India to meet Maharishi.
When asked about religion, de Acosta once said that although she had grown up Catholic, she would be, if she had to be anything, a Buddhist.
In 1960, when de Acosta was seriously ill with a brain tumor and in need of money, she published her memoir, Here Lies the Heart. The reviews were positive and many close friends praised the book. But its allusions to homosexuality resulted in the severance of several friendships with women who felt she had betrayed their sexuality. Garbo also ended their friendship at this time but there some evidence that the memoir was not necessarily the cause. Eva Le Gallienne in particular was furious, denouncing de Acosta as a liar and stating that she invented the stories for fame. This assessment is inaccurate, however, since many of her affairs, including that with Le Gallienne, are confirmed in personal correspondence. In any case, she gained a reputation that was not appreciated by everyone. But as Alice B. Toklas, lover of Gertrude Stein and de Acosta's long-term friend, wrote to a disapproving critic, "Say what you will about Mercedes, she’s had the most important women of the twentieth century".
De Acosta died at age 75 in poverty. She is buried at Trinity Cemetery in Washington Heights, New York City.
De Acosta has usually been described disparagingly, dismissed as a dishonest nuisance to her lovers. Garbo’s biographers, for example, assess their relationship from Garbo's perspective in which Garbo is fundamentally blameless in their difficult relationship, a perpetual victim of de Acosta's irksome behavior. Robert A. Schanke, de Acosta's recent biographer, attempts, on the basis of extensive research, to provide an accurate picture of her. She was, Schanke acknowledges, flawed and imperfect, a complex woman who impaired several of her relationships and failed to achieve her professional and romantic aspirations. But he reveals her to have been an exceptional person who was lively, intelligent, and dynamic and who had many devoted friends. She was, he argues, a brave lesbian of her times (which caused her heartache and misery) and a person of integrity who remained kind and loyal to everyone with whom she crossed paths. He suggests that the many denigrating portrayals of her may derive from the deep homophobia of her generation. (Picture: Ona Munson)
She has also been accused of fabricating incidents in her memoir and lacing it with half-truths and fantasies, an indictment that is not entirely fair since it is not unusual in autobiographies. She herself confessed, “I may have made mistakes in some dates or minor incidents but…I feel I have held to the spirit of my statement if not to the letter". Nevertheless, Karen Swenson identified important errors in de Acosta's account which she corrected in her 1997 biography, Greta Garbo: A Life Apart. While the memoir was initially unsuccessful, it was rediscovered in the late 1960s and widely read in the underground gay community. In spite of its inaccuracies, it is now recognized as an important contribution to gay and lesbian history. (Picture: Tamara Platonovna Karsavina)
Burial: Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum, Manhattan, New York County, New York, USA
Marlene Dietrich (27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992) was a German-American actress and singer.
Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as "Lola-Lola" in The Blue Angel, directed by Josef von Sternberg, brought her international fame and provided her a contract with Paramount Pictures in the US. Hollywood films such as Shanghai Express and Desire capitalised on her glamour and exotic looks, cementing her stardom and making her one of the highest-paid actresses of the era. Dietrich became a US citizen in 1939, and throughout World War II she was a high-profile frontline entertainer. Although she still made occasional films in the post-war years, Dietrich spent most of the 1950s to the 1970s touring the world as a successful show performer.
In 1999, the American Film Institute named Dietrich the ninth-greatest female star of all time.
Unlike her professional celebrity, which was carefully crafted and maintained, Dietrich's personal life was kept out of public view. Dietrich, who was bisexual, enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920s Berlin.
by Cecil Beaton
Mercedes de Acosta was involved in numerous lesbian relationships with Broadway’s and Hollywood's elite and did not attempt to hide her sexuality. Mercedes threatened to throw Marlen Dietrich into a swimming pool if she continued to send flowers. Unlike her professional celebrity, which was carefully crafted and maintained, Marlene Dietrich's personal life was kept out of public view. Dietrich, who was bisexual, enjoyed the thriving gay scene of the time and drag balls of 1920s Berlin.
by Edward Steichen
by Lord Snowdon
by George Hurrell
She married only once, assistant director Rudolf Sieber, who later became an assistant director at Paramount Pictures in France, responsible for foreign language dubbing. Dietrich's only child, Maria Elisabeth Sieber, was born in Berlin on 13 December 1924. She would later become an actress, primarily working in television, known as Maria Riva. When Maria gave birth to a son in 1948, Dietrich was dubbed "the world's most glamorous grandmother". After Dietrich's death, Riva published a frank biography of her mother, titled Marlene Dietrich (1990).
Throughout her career Dietrich had an unending string of affairs, some short-lived, some lasting decades; they often overlapped and were almost all known to her husband, to whom she was in the habit of passing the love letters of her men, sometimes with biting comments. When Dietrich filmed Morocco she found time to have an affair with Gary Cooper, despite the constant presence on the set of the temperamental Mexican actress Lupe Velez, with whom Cooper was having a romance. Vélez once said: "If I had the opportunity to do so, I would have drawn her eyes Marlene Dietrich out". During the filming of Destry Rides Again, Dietrich started a love affair with co-star Jimmy Stewart, which ended after filming. In 1938, Dietrich met and began a relationship with the writer Erich Maria Remarque, and in 1941, the French actor and military hero Jean Gabin. Their relationship ended in the mid-1940s. She also had an affair with the Cuban-American writer Mercedes de Acosta, who was Greta Garbo's periodic lover. Her last great passion, when she was in her 50s, appears to have been for the actor Yul Brynner, but her love life continued well into her 70s. She counted John Wayne, George Bernard Shaw and John F. Kennedy among her conquests. Dietrich maintained her husband and his mistress first in Europe and later on a ranch in the San Fernando Valley, California.
She was raised a Protestant, but lost her faith due to battlefront experiences during her time with the US Army as an entertainer after hearing preachers from both sides invoking God as their support. "I lost my faith during the war and can't believe they are all up there, flying around or sitting at tables, all those I've lost." She once said: “If God exists, he needs to review his plan.”
Burial: Berlin-Schöneberg (Friedhof Schöneberg III), Friedenau (Berlin), Berlin, Germany
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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