A Poet from Hollywood: Love, Insanity, Stephen Gyllenhaal, and the Creative Process // Chapter 12

Cantara Christopher
30 min readNov 4, 2022


“I’ve Been Sleeping on Skid Row”

Two weeks later my cell phone rang.

“Hello, this is Paula, do you remember me?” said the brisk voice on the other end.

I had to think a few seconds before placing her. She was the woman at the Tebot Bach reading with the Garbo collection. Her call surprised me; I had thought she was only being polite when she asked for my number.

“Oh hi, Paula!” I said.

She came right to the point. “So, how about that lunch?”

We agreed to meet the next day, Tuesday, at a restaurant she suggested on Sunset Boulevard called the Cat & Fiddle close to where Michael and I were staying. When I got there at one-thirty I found her already sitting at a table in the courtyard sipping an iced tea, looking quite smart with a new hairdo. As I sat down, she told me that she came into town every Tuesday to get her hair done by her favorite Beverly Hills stylist.

I ordered an iced tea as well and we engaged in some small talk. I told Paula about our stay in Hollywood; she told me about her background. It seems that about forty years earlier she was an assistant to a producer at MGM, hence her interest in Garbo and Mamoulian, who were both under contract to that studio way back in the Golden Thirties.

We had a lovely lunch of shrimp salad, after which at her urging I recounted everything I remembered about my old boss, although I’m afraid I couldn’t give Paula what she really wanted: a definite answer as to whether Mamoulian and Garbo had actually planned to marry after the filming of Queen Christina. Mamoulian had opened up to me about a lot of incidents in his life, but that wasn’t one of them.

“Personally,” Paula confided to me, “I never believed all this lesbian nonsense about Garbo. I think she was in always in love with John Gilbert.”

I nodded my agreement, actually knowing nothing about this aspect of Garbo’s personal life. “Anyway,” I continued, “Mamoulian told…



Cantara Christopher

Actress-writer leading visitors down the rabbit hole of the arts, sex, magick, Filipiniana, and America’s hidden history [cantarachristopher.blog]