Salka Viertel

Salka Viertel (1889–1978) was born Salomea Sara Steuermann in Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now Poland and the Ukraine. In the early part of her career, she acted in various theater companies, including Max Reinhardt’s Deutsches Theater. In the late 1920s, Salka and her husband, Berthold Viertel, left Berlin for Hollywood, where Berthold wrote screenplays and directed films and Salka began acting in motion pictures. She befriended Greta Garbo on the set of Anna Christie and began to co-write screenplays for many of Garbo’s films, including The Painted Veil and Anna Karenina. With the onset of World War II, the Viertels decided to stay in California and started a salon in their home for other émigrés. In 1942, Salka was put on an FBI watch list and later her salon was dissolved under the inquisition of the Hollywood film industry. Despite being deemed a communist sympathizer, she was eventually permitted to return to Europe. She died in Switzerland.