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In her new book The Sun and the Stars: Salka Viertel and Hitler’s Exiles in the Golden Age of Hollywood, writer Donna Rifkind tells the little-known story of screenwriter Salka Viertel, whose salons in Hollywood in the 1930s and ‘40s created a refuge for many famous figures who had escaped the horrors of World War ll.
Hollywood was created by its “others”—women, Jews, and immigrants—and Salka Viertel was all three. But she was also much more: the screenwriter for five of Greta Garbo's movies, the actress’s most intimate friend, and at one point the highest-paid writer on the MGM lot.
Meanwhile, at her house in Santa Monica, she opened her door on Sunday afternoons to scores of European émigrés who had fled from Hitler—such as Thomas Mann, Bertolt Brecht, and Arnold Schoenberg—along with Hollywood stars from Charlie Chaplin to Shelley Winters. In Viertel's living room, countless cinematic, theatrical, and musical partnerships were born.
In this Meet the Author event, Rifkind will discuss Viertel’s life and her vital presence in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
About the Speakers:
Donna Rifkind is a writer whose reviews have appeared frequently in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times Book Review. She has also been a contributor to the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Times Literary Supplement, American Scholar, and a number of other publications. In 2006, she was a finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing from the National Book Critics Circle.
Daniel Greene is President and Librarian at the Newberry. He is also an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University. Prior to arriving at the Newberry, Greene curated Americans and the Holocaust, an exhibition that opened in April 2018 at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. His book The Jewish Origins of Cultural Pluralism: The Menorah Association and American Diversity (Indiana University Press, 2011) won the American Jewish Historical Society’s Saul Viener Prize in American Jewish history in 2012. He earned his PhD in history at the University of Chicago.
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