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On this Day in Movie History, February 21, 1926 Garbo’s First U.S. Film Opens

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The glamorous, husky-voiced Swedish actress Greta Garbo, known for her almost unearthly beauty and intense desire for privacy, makes her U.S. screen debut in The Torrent on this day in 1926.

Greta Garbo (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990), born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson, was a Swedish film actress. Garbo was an international star and icon during Hollywood's silent and classic periods. Many of Garbo's films were sensational hits, and all but three of her twenty-four Hollywood films were profitable.[1] Garbo was nominated four times for an Academy Award and received an honorary one in 1954 for her "luminous and unforgettable screen performances". She also won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for both Anna Karenina (1935) and Camille (1936). In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Garbo fifth on their list of greatest female stars of all time, after Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman.

Garbo launched her career with a leading 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 superstar.

With her first talking film, Anna Christie (1930), she received an Academy Award nomination. MGM marketers enticed the public with the catch-phrase "Garbo talks!" That same year she won a second Oscar nomination for her performance in Romance. In 1932, her immense popularity allowed her to dictate the terms of her contract, and she became increasingly choosy 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 third Academy Award nomination. After working exclusively in dramatic films, Garbo turned to comedy with Ninotchka (1939), which earned her a fourth Academy Award nomination, and Two-Faced Woman (1941).

In 1941, she retired after appearing in twenty-seven films. Although she was offered many opportunities to return to the screen, she declined most of them. Instead, she lived a private life, shunning publicity.

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