Greta Granstedt

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Granstedt in 1932

Greta Granstedt (July 13, 1907 – October 7, 1987) was an American film and television actress.[1]

Background[edit]

Irene "Greta" Granstedt was the second child of Theodore and Emma Granstedt, born in Scandia, Kansas.[2] The Granstedt family was one of the five pioneer families from Sweden who settled in this north central Kansas community in 1867-68. The families left Sweden in response to the terrible conditions in the three years of misery in Sweden.[3] She spent the first 13 years of her life in Scandia. Her father was of Norwegian and Swedish heritage. In 1920 her family moved to Mountain View, California.

As a young teenager she was involved in an altercation with a boyfriend, Harold Galloway. Coming home from a church social, she confronted Harold with a pistol. The pistol went off and Harold was severely wounded. Galloway recovered, but Granstedt was sentenced to time in a reform school and was banished from Mountain View.[4]

She left Mountain View as a young woman and spent the next several years in San Francisco. Among other ways of making a living, she modeled at San Francisco Art Association in the summer of 1926. In 1927 she and a companion travelled from San Francisco to Los Angeles. There is some confusion about who the companion was, or the way the pair got to Hollywood. The common story is that she and Bessie Hyde took a steamer from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Bessie met Glen Hyde on that trip, falling in love and sealing her fate as a lost river runner. Greta, it is said, disembarked from the trip with the desire to become a movie star and the choice of a new name. She boarded as Eraine, a name she'd adopted in San Francisco, and departed as Greta. She boarded as a Kansas born California, disembarked as a Swedish born starlet in waiting.[5] Another source maintains that Greta, barely surviving the hardships of living on her own in San Francisco, hitch-hiked from northern to southern California in the company of Geraldine Andrews [4]

In 1929 Greta had effected a reconciliation with her parents. They embarked from San Francisco aboard the aging passenger steamer, the San Juan. On September 2 the San Juan collided with oil tanker S. C. T. Dodd off Pigeon Point, California, near the location of the Pigeon Point lighthouse. Her father survived, but her mother was among the 77 drown in the incident.[4] The tragedy played out for several months in Los Angeles, with the crew being found negligent.

Granstedt was married 8 times, with four of the marriages being annulled. Her first marriage, in 1923, to Robert Blieber, was annulled because Greta was a minor. Her second marriage, to Robert Lowenthal, a California artist, in 1926, was also annulled. Her third marriage, to Ramon Ramos, in 1933, was celebrated by the one year, one term Mayor of New York, John P. O'Brien. The marriage lasted only eighteen months. Ramos was a Latin band leader, and tango dancer. Granstedt joined him at the Miami Biltmore in the fall of 1933 [6] In 1935 Granstedt married French World War I veteran, designer and photographer Marcel Olis, in Greenwich, Connecticut. It is unclear how long this marriage lasted, but it also ended in divorce.

Her fifth husband was Max de Vega, a matte painter [7] Matte painting is a motion picture special effects technique involving the painting of movie backgrounds on glass. Married in Mexico, she was considering divorce when she discovered that de Vega was still married to a previous wife, and thus she sought annulment rather than divorce. It was with de Vega that Granstedt had a house designed for her by the California Architect Harwell Harris.[8] The Hollywood home is still extant, and Greta lived in the house through the 1950s.

In 1944 Granstedt wed for a sixth time, this time to Major Lawrence Wright. The marriage was annulled, when Wright, like de Vega proved to still be married to another woman. In 1947 she married for a seventh time. Because four of the previous marriages had been annulled, newspaper reports of the time described this as "her second wedding, his first." She and husband Arthur G. Forbes (1947–1951) adopted a son from Tennessee in 1948. In the 1951 Greta was awarded custody of the child she and Forbes had adopted three years earlier. They named the child Christopher Michael.[9] Her final marriage, in 1965, was to Howard Thomas. By this time Greta had been treated for throat cancer and recovered. She and Thomas purchased ranch land in British Columbia.

Career[edit]

By the mid-1920s, Greta had appeared opposite Joseph Schildkraut in a Los Angeles production of From Hell Came a Lady.[10]

One of her earliest film appearances was in a small role in Buck Privates (1928), with Hungarian film actress Lya de Putti, and made her talkie debut in The Last Performance (1929). She continued to play mainly bit parts some of which were memorable. She appeared as Beulah Bondi's daughter in the crime drama Street Scene (1931) and as Margo's friend in Crime Without Passion (1934).[11]

While in New York City, Greta appeared in three Broadway plays, the short-lived Tomorrow's Harvest (4 performances, opened December 4, 1934 at the 49th St. Theatre), and the longer running If A Body (45 performances, openeing April 30, 1935 at the Biltmore Theatre). In the 1936-37 season, she drama Thirsty Soil at the 48th St. Theatre (opening February 3, 1937, 13 performances).[12]

She returned to Hollywood for perhaps her best remembered role, that of Anna Wahl, playing opposite Alan Ladd as the only female in an underground resistance cell in Hitler, Beast of Berlin (1939). She plays the flirtatious wife looking to stray in her brief appearance in "Telephone Operator" (1937). She appeared in the comedy There Goes My Heart as "Thulda", the Swedish maid who comes to New York to visit her uncle "Björn Björnsson". Her 1940s roles were minor. She appeared as Mrs. Lars Faraassen in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes (1945), appearing in the Christmas party and barn burning scenes.

In 1958, she played a California housewife welcoming Francis Lederer's Count Dracula into her suburban home in The Return of Dracula. During the 1960s, she appeared in a such television shows as Perry Mason, Peter Gunn, The Millionaire, Lassie and Dragnet. She retired in 1970.[13]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ AllStarPics.Net
  2. ^ Belleville Telescope, July 1907
  3. ^ Scandia Kansas History
  4. ^ a b c Bellville, Kansas, Telescope, September 12, 1929
  5. ^ Dimock, Brad. Sunk Without a Sound. Flagstaff: Fretwater Press
  6. ^ Miami News, November 17, 1933
  7. ^ Matte Shot - a tribute
  8. ^ Southern California Architectural History
  9. ^ Los Angeles Times, October 5, 1951
  10. ^ 1920 Federal Census, Fruitvale, Sunnyvale Township, Santa Clara, California
  11. ^ Hollywood Friends website
  12. ^ Greta Granstedt Internet Broadway Data Base
  13. ^ Greta Granstedt IMDb profile

External links[edit]