We rarely get access to the true, unfiltered inner lives of celebrities, especially not those who lived long before the invasive rise of social media and TMZ. Yet a batch of Greta Garbo’s letters going up for auction from Sotheby’s reveals the on-screen star’s inner turmoil, as The Guardian reports.
The collection includes 36 letters from Garbo to her close friend in Sweden, Countess Märta Wachtmeister. Most of the letters (which are written in Swedish) are signed by the actress, though in some cases, she instead signed them “The Clown” or drew a female figure instead of signing her name.
Written largely during the 1930s and 1940s, at the height of her fame as a leading lady, they show Garbo’s honest, often cutting assessments of life in Beverly Hills, the movies she was working on, and her loneliness.
In several of these missives, she expresses dismay or contempt for how the movies she’s working on are progressing. “It's been a difficult time, it all went wrong," she wrote of the 1933 historical film Queen Christina. "I'm half-done with Christina now and half-done is what she's going to be when she's finished." (Nevertheless, the film would go on to be a critical and commercial success.) She writes that Ninotchka, her 1939 comedy, "doesn't amount to much,” and complains about changes to her final film, the 1941 flop Two-Faced Woman—while admitting that she didn’t do much to stop them. (“Since I would rather go walking in the country than fight for stories, it will have turned out like it has,” she writes.)
She also admits to feeling crushing loneliness at home in Beverly Hills. “I am almost always alone and talk to myself,” she writes. “I drive to the beach and take walks and that's always marvelous. But that's it …” She talks about yearning to go back to Tistad Castle, the Countess’s home in Sweden, saying “The last few days here have been grey and I have been thinking a lot about Tistad. About summers there when it rains and that marvelous melancholy enfolds us.” In another snippet, she writes, "I live in the memories of Tistad.”
The collection of letters is valued at between $20,200 and $27,000, and goes on sale at Sotheby’s in London on December 11.
[h/t The Guardian]