Greta Gynt (1916 – 2000)

Posted in Rewind by - September 19, 2014
Greta Gynt (1916 – 2000)

Although she is mostly forgotten now, in the UK in the 1940’s Greta Gynt was a very attractive and popular leading lady. Although she never managed to crack America, Greta starred in a variety of successful British movies and, although I’ve only seen her in a couple of features, I was impressed by her varied talents and surprised she didn’t have more luck in her career.

Born Margrethe Woxholt in Oslo, Norway on November 15th 1916, glamorous blonde Greta started out as a dancer before moving to England in the mid Thirties. After roles in a couple of light comedies, Greta had the female lead in the Tod Slaughter crime flick ‘Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror’ (’38). An excellent entry in the Sexton Blake series, Greta played Julie, a beautiful French sleuth aiding Sexton Blake’s amateur London detective.

The following year Greta starred in the grim and often disturbing thriller; ‘The Dark Eyes of London’ (39), in which Bela Lugosi’s Dr Orloff is orchestrating the murders of several blind folk who are residents at Lugosi’s institute for the blind. In this minor cult picture Greta played Diane, the beautiful daughter of one of Orloff’s victims, who aides the police in his capture. In a change of pace, Gynt played Sylvia Meadows, a nightclub singer, in ‘The Common Touch’ (’41), a very good domestic drama with Greta glowing in a more showy role. A rather ingenious thriller came later with ‘Dear Murderer’ (’47), a clever suspenser which had Gynt as the unfaithful wife of wealthy businessman Eric Portman. The following year Greta was top-billed in ‘The calendar’ (’48), a somewhat forgettable melodrama with a horse-racing setting.

A brief spell in Hollywood came when Greta had a co-starring role in the Rudyard Kipling tale ‘Soldiers Three’ (’51), with David Niven and Stewart Granger. She then had one of her best roles in the 1952 mystery ‘The Ringer’, with Herbert Lom and Mai Zetterling. She was marvellous in it and looked lovely as the abandoned wife of a noted crook who has escaped to London from America. Greta’s next picture was a whodunit; ‘Three Steps in the Dark’ (’53), about a mystery novelist (Gynt) trying to solve her uncles murder. A couple of broad comedies followed with 1955’s ‘See How They Run’, and ‘My Wife’s Family’ (’56), both with Ronald Shiner. A lead role came in 1957 with the pretty good thriller ‘Morning call’, which had Greta as the wife of a missing doctor.

By the late Fifties Gynt’s career was very much in decline with only supporting roles in pictures which often saw her name way down the cast list. One last lead did come in the obscure 1963 thriller ‘The Runaway’, although nobody seems to have seen it! The following year Greta retired from the screen and lived out her remaining years in a plush Kensington property in London.

Married four times, Greta Gynt died of natural causes in London on April 2nd 2000, aged 83. Although she remains largely unknown today, with the release of some of her better known films (including a nice DVD print of ‘The Dark Eyes of London’), Greta’s work can be appreciated once again, reminding us of this somewhat obscure star who brought vivacity and glamour to a handful of British B-movies.

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