Oh, my darlings — you must click on the great big letters at the bottom of this post and let Ms. Harrington regale you with the details of this diet. She is wonderfully funny!
In the thirties, famously reclusive actress Greta Garbo met self-described “doctor of natural science” (i.e., doctor of nothing) Gayelord Hauser, nutritionist to the stars. They reportedly hit it off, which is saying a lot, because Garbo had very few friends, hated going out, and once refrained from speaking a single word during a dinner with Mae West.
But Garbo and Hauser were bonded by their love of calorie restriction. Garbo had begun shedding pounds in 1924, after Louis B. Mayer told her, “In America, men don’t like fat women,” and dieted continuously throughout her life. She particularly loved fad diets, which made her a good disciple for Hauser’s science; he had written several books about nutrition including New Health Cookery and his most famous tome, Live Younger, Live Longer, in which he suggested eating raw yeast and drinking buttermilk as a fun treat.
Garbo was an adherent to the Hauser regime, which emphasized the glories of vegetables, nuts, and yogurt, for many years. Some publications even speculated the two had an affair based around their shared love of disgusting food. They often cohabitated, and a neighbor of theirs in Palm Beach once complained of their exploits, writing, “that skinny Swedish actress and her fancy boyfriend are always running around naked in their backyard.” Still, Simon Doonan described Garbo as Hauser’s “longtime beard.” Whether they had an affair or not, here was a chronic dieter who lived with her nutrionist. Garbo was living the dream! So I wanted to emulate that in some small, sad, yet thoroughly modern way for my latest experiment in historically validated strange eating habits.