Greta Garbo: The Beautiful Memories

Interview with Tennessee Williams
Conducted by James Grissom
New Orleans

It was my selfishness that desired a return of Greta Garbo. I didn't want to be deprived of her beauty and her talent. I wanted to see her so that she could remind me of how she had saved me. But Garbo was smart--unlike so many of us, she could see the waning, the diminishing, the changing of the guard, so to speak. She didn't like it, and she had either the strength of character or a mental malady that allowed her to recede and spend  time alone. I was with her, spoke to her, and she kept her mind active: she was curious. But she absolutely did not need or depend upon others. She was frugal with all things, primarily her emotions, and she lived in a sort of penitential splendor. She didn't live so much as she subsisted. I get it completely. People are tiring at best and disappointing most of the time. We now have Garbo on film at her best, and, as she told me, she has the beautiful memories. Ah, the beautiful memories, she would say on occasion. You can live a long time on a beautiful memory or two. And that appears to be what she's doing. She may be showing us the way to live.

©  2014  James Grissom


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