Greta Lovisa Gustafsson (18 September 1905 – 15 April 1990), better known as Greta Garbo, was a noted Swedish actress and recluse. She was a major star in the United States during the silent film era and the Golden Age of Hollywood. 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 major role in the Swedish film The Saga of Gosta Berling. Her performance caught the attention of Louis B. Mayer, who brought her to Hollywood in 1925 to work at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). She became a star of silent films.
Garbo was one of the few actresses to negotiate the transition to sound. Her first talking film was Anna Christie (1930), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. MGM marketers enticed the public with the catchphrase "Garbo talks!" In 1932, her popularity allowed her to dictate the terms of her contract, and she became increasingly choosy about her roles.
She received the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for Anna Karenina (1935), but she considered her performance as the courtesan Marguerite Gautier in Camille (1936) her best performance; the role gained her a second Academy Award nomination. After working exclusively in dramatic films, Garbo turned to comedy with Ninotchka (1939) and Two-Faced Woman (1941). For Ninotchka, Garbo was again nominated for an Academy Award; Two-Faced Woman did well at the box office, but was a critical failure.
After 1941, she retired after appearing in 27 films, and became increasingly reclusive. She has been indelibly linked to one of her lines from the film Grand Hotel: "I want to be alone". She later remarked, "I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be let alone.' There is all the difference." To the end of her life, Garbo-watching became a sport among the paparazzi and the media, but she remained elusive up until her death in 1990 at the age of 84.