Greta Garbo did not inhabit this earth. She flitted about in the celluloid heavens, showing her face and, later, offering her voice at sporadic intervals. Her skin was flawless, the arch of her eyebrow was perfection. She was never a child, she never aged. She didn’t cry, and laughed so rarely that when it happened onscreen, the studio focused entire publicity campaigns around it.
She was never Greta; she was always Garbo. And she must be seen — projected, larger-than-life, on the big screen — to be believed.
Garbo is one of the remaining enigmas of Hollywood history: did she love men? Women? Both? Did she turn her back [...]
Let’s talk straight: there was no cowboy handsomer than Gary Cooper. John Wayne had the sneer, and Gene Autry had the voice, but no one smoldered quite like Cooper. In his early films, he was glamour on a horse: his eyes lined, his face powdered, yet somehow right at home in the saddle — in part because unlike so many city-boys-turned-screen-cowboys, he grew up in Montana, one of the last veritable frontiers of the early 20th century. Over his 30 years in Hollywood, he would play variations on the cowboy — the cowboy goes to war, the cowboy goes to the city — but in each turn, he not only [...]
In the early '40s, Laurence Olivier had everything going for him: he was widely regarded as one of the two best actors to ever grace the British stage, his film career had been set aflame by startling performances in Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, and his gorgeous wife, Vivien Leigh, had just pulled off Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind. He was also at the apex of his career as a stone-cold fox. And as half of the “first couple” of Britain, he was the closest that a born-and-raised Brit would get to bona fide Hollywood stardom. He and Leigh lived in flagrant sin, still married to other people, [...]