January 24: Hedwig Baum

annex-garbo-greta-grand-hotel_03Hedwig (Vicki) Baum, whose 1929 novel, People in a Hotel, was adapted as the screenplay for the film Grand Hotel, was born in Vienna on this date in 1888. Baum was a professional harpist and writer who had worked as a hotel maid while writing her book in order to lend it realism. The Oscar-winning film starred Greta (“I want to be alone”) Garbo and Joan Crawford, among others. Baum emigrated to the U.S. in 1932; she began to write in English after World War II and became one of the world’s first best-selling authors of middlebrow literature, producing more than fifty novels, ten of which were turned into Hollywood movies.

“There are shortcuts to happiness and dancing is one of them.” —Vicki Baum

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