Gloria Swanson

Gloria Swanson (March 27, 1897April 4, 1983) was an American actress.

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Gloria Swanson

Born Gloria May Josephine Svensson on a military base in San Juan, Puerto Rico to a Swedish-American father, she grew up in Puerto Rico, Chicago, and Key West, Florida. Her film debut was in 1915, as an extra in The Fable of Elvira and Farina and the Meal Ticket, but she was a star by the next year, in A Dash of Courage. She played many Mack Sennett slapstick comedies, but in 1919 she signed with Cecil B. DeMille, and he turned her into a romantic lead. She starred in the 1922 silent film Beyond the Rocks with Rudolph Valentino (this film which had been believed lost was rediscovered in 2004 in a private collection in The Netherlands.)

Swanson's 1929 film Queen Kelly, was directed by Erich von Stroheim and produced by Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., the father of President John F. Kennedy. She was romantically linked to the elder Kennedy at the time.

When Swanson starred in the 1950 Sunset Boulevard, it is scenes of Queen Kelly that her character, Norma Desmond, is watching (with von Stroheim playing her butler).

Swanson made it into the talkies, even singing in Music in the Air, and she hosted a television anthology series, Crown Theatre with Gloria Swanson, in which she occasionally acted. Her last Hollywood movie was Three for Bedroom C in 1952, although she did appear in the Italian movie Mio figlio Nerone.

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Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard"

Her last acting role was in the television horror film Killer Bees in 1974, though she also appeared as herself in the movie Airport 1975 which was also released in 1974.

Gloria Swanson was cremated, her ashes buried at the Church of Heavenly Rest, in New York City.

She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame - one for motion pictures at 6748 Hollywood Blvd. and one for television at 6301 Hollywood Blvd.



  • She married actor Wallace Beery (1885-1949) in 1916; they divorced in 1919. They had no children but according to Swanson, she miscarried after Beery, encouraged by his mother, secretly gave her a poison intended to induce an abortion.
  • She married Herbert K. Somborn (1881-1934), then president of Equity Pictures Corporation and later the owner of the Brown Derby restaurant, in 1919. Their daughter, Gloria Swanson Somborn, was born in 1920; their divorce, which was finalized in January 1925, was sensational, as Somborn accusing her of adultery with 13 men, including Cecil B. DeMille and Marshall Neilan. During her divorce proceedings in 1923, Swanson adopted a baby boy named Sonny Smith (1922-1975). She renamed him Joseph Patrick Swanson.
  • Her third husband was a French aristocrat, Henry de la Falaise, Marquis de la Falaise, in 1925, after the Somborn divorce was finalized. He became a film executive representing Pathé in the United States. She conceived a child with him but had an abortion, which she says, in her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson, she regretted. This marriage ended in divorce in 1931.
  • In August 1931, Swanson married Michael Farmer (1902-1975); although frequently described as a sportsman, the only evidence of the Irishman's prowess was his frequent betrothals. Unfortunately, Swanson's divorce from La Falaise had not been finalized at the time, making the actress technically a bigamist. She was forced to remarry Farmer the following November, by which time she was four months pregnant with Michelle Bridget Farmer, who was born in 1932. The Farmers were divorced in 1934.
  • In 1945 Swanson married William N. Davey: they divorced in 1946.
  • Swanson's final marriage, which occurred in 1976 and lasted until her death, was to William F. Dufty (1916-2002), author of Lady Sings the Blues. According to an article in "The Noe Valley Voice" about Bevan Dufty, Swanson's stepson, his father was gay the last 20 years of his life, a period which included his marriage to Swanson.

Academy Award nominations

Additional Information

Gloria Swanson was the favorite actor of the character Granny, from The Beverly Hillbillies. She appeared in at least one episode as herself.

She was a long-time vegetarian and early health food advocate, who often brought her own meals to public functions in a paper bag.

See also

External Links

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