Gaebo's career spanned only 19 years. In 1941, at the age of 36, she made the last of her 27 movies, a slight comedy called ''Two Faced Woman.'' She went into what was to be temporary retirement, but she never returned to the screen.
For half acentury, the actress remained an enigma, the Swedish sphinx, because of her deep fear of reporters and other strangers and her insistence on guarding her privacy.
Ironically, in seeking to avoid publicity, she became one of the most publicized women in the world.
A declaration often attributed to her was, ''I want to be alone.'' Actually she said, ''I want to be let alone.''