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Immigrants Of The Day: Greta Garbo of Sweden, Anthony Quinn of Mexico, and Charlie Chaplin of London

by Kevin R. Johnson

Greta Garbo (Sweden)

220pxgreta_garbo_1925_by_genthe Greta Garbo (1905-1990) is regarded as one of the greatest and most inscrutable movie stars ever produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the Hollywood studio system. Garbo received a 1955 Honorary Oscar "for her unforgettable screen performances" and was ranked as the fifth greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute.  The Guinness Book of World Records named Garbo as "the most beautiful woman who ever lived".

Born Greta Lovisa Gustafsson in Stockholm, Sweden, the youngest of three children born to Karl Alfred Gustafsson (18711920) and Anna Lovisa Johansson (18721944). On February 9, 1951, she became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

July 24, 2007 | Permalink

Anthony Quinn (Mexico)

Quinn Anthony Quinn (19152001) was a two-time Academy Award-winning actor, as well as a painter and writer. Quinn is perhaps best known in the US for his roles in two films, "Zorba the Greek" and his Oscar-winning performance in "Viva Zapata!"

Quinn was born Antonio Rudolfo Oaxaca Quinn in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. His father, Frank "Francisco" Quinn, was Irish-born and moved to Mexico in order to fight alongside Pancho Villa. His mother, Manuela "Nellie" Oaxaca, was Mexican.

Quinn grew up in the Boyle Heights and the Echo Park neighborhoods of Los Angeles. In 1947, Quinn became a naturalized citizen of the United States. A big break was his playing opposite Marlon Brando in Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata! (1952). His supporting role as Zapata's brother won Quinn his first Oscar, the first Mexican-American to win any Academy Award.

July 25, 2007 | Permalink

Charlie Chaplin (London)

220pxcharlie_chaplin Charlie Chaplin (1899-1977), movie-picture actor, director, writer and composer, was one of the leading talents in film history.  Born in poverty in London, Chaplin's achievements resulted in his being knighted in 1975.  Immigrating to the U.S. as an adult, Chaplin created his most famous character the "little tramp" with his cane, bowler hat, baggy pants and enormous shoes. Founding United Artists film studio with other film stars in 1919, Chaplin' delighted film fans in over 70 movies including "The Kid", "The Gold Rush", "The Great Dictator" (click here for a famous scene), and "Modern Times."  Hounded out of the U.S. during the McCarthy era because of his leftist views, Chaplin returned to Europe.  He came to the U.S. in 1972 to receive several tributes including an Academy Award for his contributions to the film industry.

Chaplin first toured America from 1910 to 1912. After five months back in England, he returned for a second tour of the United States in October 1912. In late 1913, Chaplin's act was seen by film producer Mack Sennett, who hired him for his studio, the Keystone Film Company.

Chaplin's first dialogue picture, The Great Dictator (1940), was an act of defiance against Adolf Hitler and Nazism. The film was seen as an act of courage in the political environment of the time, both for its ridicule of Nazism and for the portrayal of overt Jewish characters and the depiction of their persecution. Chaplin played both the role of a Nazi-like dictator modeled on Hitler and also that of a Jewish barber cruelly persecuted by the Nazis.

In the 1940s, Chaplin's views (in conjunction with his influence, fame, and status in the United States as a resident foreigner) were seen by many as communistic. His films were openly political. "Modern Times" depicts workers and poor people in dismal conditions. The final dramatic speech in The Great Dictator, which was critical of following patriotic nationalism without question, and his vocal public support for the opening of a second European front in 1942 in World War II were controversial.

Although Chaplin had his major successes in the United States and was a resident from 1914 to 1952, he always retained his British nationality. During the era of McCarthyism, Chaplin was accused of "un-American activities" and J. Edgar Hoover, who had instructed the FBI to keep extensive secret files on him, tried to end his United States residency. FBI pressure on Chaplin grew after his 1942 campaign for a second European front in the war and reached a critical level in the late 1940s, when Congressional figures threatened to call him as a witness in hearings. This was never done, probably a wise decision, as Chaplin later stated that, if called, he wanted to appear dressed in his Tramp costume.

In 1952, Chaplin left the U.S. for what was intended as a brief trip home to England; Hoover learned of it and negotiated with the Immigration & Naturalization Service to revoke his re-entry permit. He decided not to reenter the United States, writing; ". . . Since the end of the last world war, I have been the object of lies and propaganda by powerful reactionary groups who, by their influence and by the aid of America's yellow press, have created an unhealthy atmosphere in which liberal-minded individuals can be singled out and persecuted. Under these conditions I find it virtually impossible to continue my motion-picture work, and I have therefore given up my residence in the United States."

Chaplin then made his home in Vevey, Switzerland. He briefly returned to the United States in April 1972, with his wife, to receive an Honorary Oscar.

July 26, 2007 | Permalink

These posts were orginally posted on the ImmigrationProf Blog here, here and here.

About The Author

Kevin R. Johnson is currently Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair holder at the University of California at Davis. He is also one of the editors of ImmigrationProf Blog .

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.