The Man Who Saved Greta Garbo.

Having been to New York quite frequently throughout the last couple of years I always wanted to pass by the residence of legendary Swedish actress Greta Gustafsson, more known to the world as Greta Garbo. She had lived there from 1953 until her death in 1990. It was only now that New York’s rainy weather made me decide to finally make my way to the East Side and learn a little bit more about the neighbourhood Sweden’s movie goddess was living after she withdrew from the world of movies.

450 East/52 Street

seemed to be a perfect match for Garbo with her apartment being at the very end of a cul-de –sac in Manhattan with an exclusive view on the East River, maybe reminding her of her native Stockholm which is surrounded by water from almost every spot in the city. The building where Garbo would live is situated in the middle of Manhattan, with Central Park only a short walk away. And even though First Avenue and Lexington are just a few steps around the corner, the tranquillity of 450 East/52 is striking. Maybe another similarity to Stockholm’s relaxed atmosphere and its hustle and bustle at the same time?

As I walked back the street from her apartment, I took some pictures of the surrounding when suddenly a man working in a flower shop started to make conversation with me. ‘You know that we had lots of photographers around here in the old days’, he said. ‘My dad can tell you some stories because Miss Garbo just lived down the road.’

What a funny coincidence as I was thinking how many would still live here and remember her! He asks me inside the shop to meet his father, Mr. Donald Bransky who is sitting there playing poker with a customer. ‘Come on dad, this man here is from Stockholm. Tell him about how you saved Miss Garbo way back then’.

Mr. Bransky looks up, smiles at me and says: ‘Greta Garbo was hunted by some photographers when she got back from a walk. They chased her and I took her inside my flower shop- and saved her. Easy as that. She was a very down to earth woman, and her style was everyday. She blended perfectly into the neighbourhood and lived like everyone else did. She certainly made no big deal about who she was. It was all mutual respect and easy going, and she came back many times to buy flowers from me.’ He certainly seems to enjoy walking down memory lane and talking about the Hollywood icon. ‘It’s all so long ago but she was really very nice.’

There’s just one last question I need to know before I leave him – did he ever play poker with her as well? ‘Never!’ is his immediate answer, smiling at me as he returns to the poker match.

(New York, April 2014)
 

{ABOUT SUNSHINE}

We are a neighborhood
store with a full line of plants
and flowers, specializing in
roses. We carry at least a
variety of 500 roses all season.

We have been in business for over 65 years at the same location.

We have the largest selection of clay pots on the East Side. In addition, we carry a creative selection of helium balloons.

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