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Greta Garbo's enduring legend derives from her incandescent performances as a woman in love in such classics as "Camille", "Queen Christina" and "Grand Hotel". For half a century her apparently reclusive existence enhanced her reputation as a remote and enigmatic screen goddess. Now, in this beautifully illustrated book, Hugo Vickers tells the remarkable story of Greta Garbo and of the two love affairs that dominated her life: with Cecil Beaton and the notorious Mercedes de Acosta. It is a highly revealing portrait of an exotic world - at its centre, an enthralling and demanding star who gave little in return.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780712659499
ISBN-10: 0712659498
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 18mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Pimlico
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 2-Mar-1995
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » An engrossing chronicle of Garbo's sexual friendships with-Mercedes de Acosta and Cecil Beaton, based on letters, journals, and personal interviews. Vickers (Vivien Leigh, 1989, etc.) has had access to the personal papers of all three of his subjects; consequently, his story is well-substantiated, largely free of the baseless conjecture that mars so many celebrity biographies. Screenwriter and playwright de Acosta seems to have been a sort of Pamela des Barres of the early screen set: She had serious affairs with Marlene Dietrich, Ona Munson, and numerous other actresses, though Garbo was the great love of her life. After their off-and-on affair ended in the 1930s, though, Garbo was clearly less interested in keeping up the friendship and, indeed, frequently refused to acknowledge de Acosta at all. Cecil Beaton had a 30-year friendship with Garbo that was sometimes platonic, sometimes passionately sexual, and, like Garbo's relationship with de Acosta, often terribly one-sided. Beaton was obsessed with Garbo and wanted to marry her; at certain points in their acquaintance, he would write to her every day, and she would go months without deigning to reply. Garbo remains a bit remote throughout this narrative, partly because, as in most love stories, the more passionate characters are better developed and partly because Vickers must paraphrase Garbo's letters (he was, in many cases, not allowed to quote them directly). Being Beaton's literary executor, Vickers sometimes relies too heavily on the photographer's papers to provide a full account of either de Acosta or Garbo. Beaton is often quoted for pages at a time, uninterrupted by authorial interpretation or a conflicting version of events; his voice and perspective tend to dominate the book. Classy, well-documented gossip, though hardly the balanced portrait of three people that the subtitle suggests. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Hugo Vickers

Hugo Vickers' books include Alice, Princess Andrew of Greece; Gladys, Duchess of Marlborough; Cecil Beaton; Vivien Leigh; Loving Garbo; Royal Orders; The Private World of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor; and The Kiss, which won the 1996 Stern Silver Pen for Non-fiction.

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