#6: Greta Garbo

Greta Garbo and Lillian Gish (both film stars from 1920s) were contenders for this spot on the list, but while Gish is still better known for her stardom rather than her spinsterhood, Garbo has become most remembered for her desire for solitude. While Garbo insists that she herself never said “I want to be alone” (she says her actual words were “I want to be left alone,” and emphasized the difference between the two phrases), she did utter that line in the film Grand Hotel, leading to her image forever being tied to that single sentence.

Top 10 Real-Life Spinsters: Greta Garbo

However it’s undeniable that Garbo did indeed want to be left alone. Though she loved acting from childhood, she disliked the attention her career brought. She became famous off-screen for snubbing Hollywood, preferring her privacy to its social parties.

It is also clear that while she was in love with her on-again, off-again lover and fellow actor John Gilbert, she refused to get married. She is quoted as fearing that Gilbert would try to “boss” her if they became husband and wife. Later she said, “There are some who want to get married and others who don’t. I have never had an impulse to go to the altar. I am a difficult person to lead.”

If you’d like to learn more about Greta Garbo, here are a few recommended resources.


Greta Garbo: Divine Star

Garbo: A Biography

See the full list of Top 10 Real-Life Spinsters here.

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