The Kindness of Strangers

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9780030764707: The Kindness of Strangers

In the early part of the 20th century, Europe was not only the undisputed center of letters and the theater, but also of the budding art of film-making. Many of the legendary talents came to the United States, and it was from these giants that the American film industry and the golden age of Hollywood were born. Salka Viertel, actress and writer, was one of the rare talents at the center of this creative storm, and its migration. Her unique memoir spanning two continents, two world wars, and almost half a century recalls the giants and their imaginative and technical contributions, which have had such a profound influence on contemporary film-makers. Salka Viertel's own life in the frenetic world of European and American theater and films was one of challenge and excitement. Born at the turn of the century into a middle-class Jewish family in Galicia, she made her way to Vienna and became an actress. Discovered by Max Reinhardt, she married the Austrian writer-director Berthold Viertel, and after a decade of postwar theater in Germany, where she helped found the avant-garde repertory company Die Truppe, she moved to Hollywood in 1929. In California, Mrs. Viertel raised her sons and joined the story department of MGM, working closely on all the major films in which Greta Garbo starred. At the Viertel house on Mabery Road in Santa Monica, Salka entertained the outstanding intellectuals, writers, and artists from Europe as well as the Hollywood personalities, who were the beautiful people of the time. The Kindness of Strangers reveals Salka Viertel as a warm and courageous woman who was actively engaged in liberal causes for many years - at the expense of her career during the days of Joe McCarthy and the "Hollywood Ten." Her memoir brings to life one of the most important eras in the film and theater world and introduces readers to the gifted and intelligent woman who was so much a part of that era - Salka Viertel herself.

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Salka Viertel
Published by Holt, Rinehart, and Winston (1969)
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