Nils Asther born 17 January 1897 (d. 1981)
Nils Asther was a Danish-born Swedish stage and film actor.
Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, Asther grew up in Sweden and attended the Royal Dramatic Theatre School in Stockholm. After returning to Copenhagen to do stage work, he soon began appearing in European films, working with acclaimed directors such as Victor Sjostrom.
Asther began his silent movie career in Sweden in 1916. He was discovered by Garbo's mentor Mauritz Stiller (with whom he reportedly had an affair) in the early 1920s. The darkly handsome actor was invited to Hollywood in 1926 and was successful through the early 1930s. By 1928 his good looks had made him into an intense leading man, playing opposite such stars as Pola Negri, Marion Davies, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck - notably The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933) - and Greta Garbo with whom he made two films. He had the misfortune to be labelled 'the male Greta Garbo'. His foreign looks made him a popular actor, and he soon grew a thin moustache which amplified his suave appearance.
With the arrival of sound in movies, Asther took voice lessons so as to minimise the presence of his accent but leading roles became harder to secure. In 1935 he was forced to seek work in England after breach of contract lead to him being blacklisted. Although allowed back in 1941, his career in Hollywood dwindled throughout the 1940s, and he soon returned to Sweden, where he remained an active actor on stage and television until his death.
Asther was bisexual and was smitten with Garbo for a while and, like Gilbert, unsuccessfully proposed in 1929 while they were filming The Single Standard.
He was briefly married to the actress Vivian Duncan.
He died in 1981.
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