Monday, July 08, 2013

An Interview With Garbo

During the last week of June, Ralph Graves passed away. He was in his 90s and a longtime writer & later editor with Time-Life.
Expectedly, he had many stories, many experiences. One which I recall involved the senior editor of Life magazine. It was the early '50s and the magazine was planning a big feature on great stars of the past, the 1920s and 1930s, and high on their list was the otherwise reclusive Greta Garbo. Garbo was fascinating as well as mysterious: She walked away (at age 36) from Hollywood in 1941, after a glittering career, and afterward was determined to stay out of the limelight & the paths of reporters & photographers. She became the most famous recluse in Hollywood (and in New York, where she lived beginning in 1946). 
Life had heard that she was arriving from Europe on the French linerLiberte. For the reporter who "finally got Garbo," there was a job with the prestigious magazine forever!
One-hundred reporters were drawn to the appeal and so scurried out in a launch to the Lower Bay -- they would find Garbo, photograph & interview her before reaching Pier 88. None succeeded -- Garbo was more than cunning about avoiding the press.
Ralph Graves was lucky, however. He'd sufficiently bribed a cabin steward to find that Garbo was in a first class single & so there he waited. Finally, a lady in big, floppy hat & dark glasses, was all but running down the corridor, being chased by a flock of reporters. Garbo rammed into Mr Graves, said nothing more than pardon & was not seen again. Cleverly, Graves wrote a story about his "one-word interview" with Garbo. He was hired by Life and the job lasted well over 50 years.
The attached photo of the splendid Liberte is from the Vic Scrivens Collection, courtesy of Rich Turnwald.
Bill Miller in New York
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