The Italian surname of GARBER is of two-fold origin. It was a nickname from the Italian word GARBO, meaning 'one who had graciousness and pleasing manners'. It was also from the name of a street in Florence, the Via del Garbo, which was populated mainly by workers in 'lana del Garbo' wool from the Algarve in Portugal, Garbo being the Italian name of the Algarve. The name is also spelt GARBARINO and GARBO. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. As the agricultural depression of southern Italy worsened towards the end of the 19th century, people began to escape to the New World. The exodus started in earnest in 1887 with Brazil and other parts of Latin America being the original destinations. By 1893, the economy had improved in the United States and people headed there from Italy in greater and greater numbers. In 1898 there were more Italian immigrants to the USA than from any other country. In the post war era, more than a quarter of Italians left the country for a new life. They joined a flood of immigrants to America which was averaging a million a year in the pre war years. A notable member of the name was Greta GARBO, the professional name of Greta Lovisa Gustafsson (1905-90) the Swedish born American film actress born in Stockholm. A shop-girl who won a bathing beauty competition at 16, she won a scholarship to the Royal Theatre Dramatic School in Stockholm, and starred in Mauritz Stiller's 'Gosta Berling's Saga' (1924). He gave his star the name GARBO, chosen before he met her. She went to the United States in 1925, and her greatest successes, following 'Anna Christie' (1930) her first talking picture, were 'Queen Christina' (1933) 'Anna Karenina' (1935) 'Camille' (1936) and 'Ninotchka' (1939). She became an American citizen in 1951 but remained a total recluse for the rest of her life.
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