~Greta Nissen~

Born: January 30, 1905 in Oslo, Norway
Died: May 15, 1988 in Montecito, California, USA
~Biography~
Blonde Norwegian star Greta Nissen is mostly remembered for a role she didn't play; or, rather, a
role that was eventually re-filmed with someone else. The daughter of an army officer and a child
prodigy of sorts, Nissen (born Grethe Rutz-Nissen) made her professional debut appearing as a
member of the corps de ballet at Copenhagen's Royal Theater. She was all of six years old and
reportedly sponsored by Norway's Queen Maud. After studying with choreographer Michel Fokine
in Paris, Nissen made an early screen debut in the Danish Daarskab, Dyd og Driverter (1923), a
vehicle for the comedy team of Pat and Patachon. It was to be her only film in Scandinavia and the
experience, she would later admit, had been less than endearing.

Arriving in New York with a ballet troupe in 1924, the blonde looker received an offer to appear in
George S. Kaufman and Marc Connelly's lavish revue Beggar on Horseback and her performance
was duly noted by Paramount's Jesse L. Lasky, who signed her to a contract. Making her American
screen debut in In the Name of Love (1925), Nissen was singled out by critic Mordaunt Hall, who
found her "an appealing and clever actress with a striking personality," and the die was cast. There
were several sophisticated comedies with Adolphe Menjou and director Raoul Walsh turned the
Scandinavian beauty into an exotic seductress in such costume extravaganzas as The Wanderer
(1926) and The Lady of the Harem (1926). MGM, meanwhile, borrowed her for The Love Thief
(1926), originally conceived, it was said, for that other Nordic Greta, Greta Garbo.

Most of Nissen's silent films were potboilers -- if usually successful ones -- but Hell's Angels (1930),
a stunt-flying extravaganza set during World War I and produced by the unpredictable Howard
Hughes, would in all likelihood have made her a major contender. Unfortunately, Hughes kept
tinkering with the aerial sequences and his grand epic became a casualty of the sound revolution
with Nissen's Norwegian accent mentioned as the chief liability. Her scenes were summarily
scrapped and remade with newcomer Jean Harlow and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rebounding somewhat with a contract from Fox, Nissen eventually proved that her accent could
easily have been turned into an asset, but the fall-out from the Hell's Angels debacle followed her for
the remainder of her screen career. After starring or co-starring in a series of B-films that included a
George O'Brien Western and a couple of British "quota quickies," the Norwegian bombshell retired
with little or no regrets. Divorced from former Fox contract star Weldon Heyburn, Greta Nissen
later became the wife of California industrialist Stuart Eckert and spent the remainder of her life in
fashionable Montecito, CA.

Biography by Hans J. Wollstein, AllMovie.com
~Silent Filmography~
.
The Butter and Egg Man (1928) .... Mary Martin
... aka The Butter & Egg Man (USA: promotional title)
Fazil (1928) .... Fabienne
Blind Alleys (1927) .... Maria d'Alvarez Kirby ... Movie Still Code: 1045-X
Blonde or Brunette (1927) .... Fanny
The Popular Sin (1926) .... La Belle Toulaise
The Lady of the Harem (1926) .... Pervaneh
The Love Thief (1926) .... Princess Flavia Eugenia Marie
The Lucky Lady (1926) .... Antoinette
The King on Main Street (1925) .... Thérèse Manix
In the Name of Love (1925) .... Marie Dufrayne
The Wanderer (1925) .... Tisha
Lost: A Wife (1925) .... Charlotte Randolph
Lille Lise let-paa-taa (1924) .... Lise
Daarskab, dyd og driverter (1923) (as Grethe Ruzt-Nissen)