Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanks for the Memory

Was New York in the 1950's really as glamorous as we here at SSUWAT like to think it was? Listening to the fabulous anecdotes of our beloved friend Merle Bassett, the answer seems to be a resounding "Yes!" Over the next few months, we'll be sharing some of Merle's memories of a bygone Manhattan with you. We'd like to thank him for his time and graciousness in this endeavor, which we admittedly begged him to participate in! We inaugurate this series with what may not be the dishiest or raciest of his tales (keep watching this space!), but one which describes his (near) encounter with the most elusive superstar of them all.

Greta Garbo by Cecil Beaton, 1946

"I often dreamed of meeting the great Greta Garbo and in 1959, almost did! She lived on 52nd Street and the East River; I lived on 51st Street and 3rd Avenue. There was a Swedish delicatessen near my studio and I often went there to get sandwiches for me and my model. One cold winter afternoon I went to this delicatessen for sandwiches. When I got there I saw Garbo smiling and chatting (yes, chatting!) with the counterman! I froze in my tracks as I was about 15 feet away from this film icon, trying desperately not to stare. I stood there, watching the lady out of the corner of my eye. I was unsuccessful in hearing what she was saying and decided to leave before I made a complete fool of myself. When I returned to the studio, my model asked 'Where's our lunch?' I had forgotten all about our sandwiches." - Merle Bassett

Merle Bassett, 1950's


  1. Amazing -- seeing Garbo or Dietrich in the flesh would make anyone's knees buckle! I love those Cecil Beaton portraits of her, too.

  2. OK, but when are we going to see beefcake photos of Merle? He certainly looked hot back in the day!

  3. Oh, I can't wait to hear all of his stories! From what I hear, Garbo was practically a recluse, so seeing her at a deli would be quite an event!

  4. Fantastic post, could not even comprehend seeing someone of that magnitude, look forward to hearing more.

  5. I have a friend that passed away about a year ago and was a very young man in Hollywood during the 30's & 40's. He was an Interior Designer, the stories he could tell us were amazing of the Classic Stars he came across and knew.

  6. Loving, loving, loving your stylish blog.
    Your newest UK follower.
    Dianne :-)

  7. I too saw Garbo on the streets of Manhattan in the mid 70s. Once while waiting for the light to change near Bloomingdales. Greta was wearing a scarf on her head and had the collar of her coat up and seemed rather nervous. But the first time I spotted her was on the street where I lived east 54 Street between Second and Third Ave. It was a warm Spring day and I noticed a women walking towards me wearing a bright pink lipstick and as she got closer I realized it was Garbo!