Hoax or Not, Book on Garbo to Be Published

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A press-ready memoir of Greta Garbo that had been locked in a vault for 14 years will be released in a matter of weeks, Simon & Schuster announced Friday.

The biography, entitled "Garbo" and written by the late Polish emigre author Antoni Gronowicz, had been branded a hoax by the actress in 1978. At the time, Gronowicz said Garbo didn't want the book published out of fear it would damage her reputation because it contained details of her sexual encounters with some of the world's most famous personalities. "She is trying to destroy me," he declared.

The publishing house made no mention of the decade-old literary controversy on Friday. Simon & Schuster's said "much" of the book being published in June is "told in her (Garbo's) own words as she talked to Gronowicz in the course of their long and intimate friendship."

Gronowicz, who died in 1985, had said that he had known Garbo since 1938 and had had "many" interviews with her.

Simon & Schuster said it acquired the book in 1976 "on the understanding that it would not be published during the actress' lifetime. Simon & Schuster insisted on this condition out of respect for Miss Garbo and her wishes."

The actress, who died a week ago, had issued a sworn affadavit through her lawyer in 1978 stating "categorically" that she had never authorized or collaborated with Gronowicz on the account of her life.

Richard E. Snyder, the president of Simon & Schuster, responded at the time that his company would not publish the book "if we learn (it) is not what it purports to be. But we won't be denied the right to publish a literary work about a public personality because that person wants to be left alone."

The Gronowicz book will beat by more than a year two other books in the works on Garbo: a biography by Barry Paris for Alfred E. Knopf and a remembrance by Ray Daum for Harper & Row.

According to the publisher, the memoir describes in detail Garbo's childhood in Sweden, her memories of movie stardom and her love life. Among the people discussed are her discoverer, mentor and lover Mauritz Stiller, actors John Gilbert, Robert Montgomery, Robert Taylor, Charles Boyer and Melvyn Douglas as well as conductor Leopold Stokowski, millionaire George Schlee, diet guru Gayelord Hauser and photographer Cecil Beaton.

"In the book, Gronowicz also recalls Miss Garbo talking about the often rumored fact that 'women pursued (her) more often and more persistently' than did men," according to a Simon & Schuster statement released Friday.

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