Nils Anton Alfhild Asther was a Danish-born Swedish actor active in Hollywood from 1926 to the mid 1950s, known for his beautiful face and often called “the male Greta Garbo”. Between 1916 and 1963 he appeared in over 70 feature films, whereof 16 done in the silent era.
Born in Denmark in the Copenhagen suburb of Hellerup to unknown biological parents, Asther was adopted shortly after birth by a wealthy couple in Malmö, Sweden, where he grew up. As a young man he moved to Stockholm, where he received acting lessons from local star Augusta Lindberg, who also became his mistress, although almost 30 years older than him. Through her, he received his first theatrical engagement at Lorensbergsteatern in Gothenburg, and in 1916 Mauritz Stiller cast him in The Wings. This soon lead to a number of film roles in both Sweden, Denmark and Germany between 1918 and 1926.
In 1927 he left for Hollywood, where his first film was Topsy and Eva. The film also featured the Duncan Sisters, and in 1930 he married one of them, Vivian Duncan, who gave him a daughter, Evelyn.
By 1928 his good looks had made him into a leading man, playing opposite such stars as Pola Negri, Marion Davies, Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo, with whom he made two films. He grew a thin mustache which amplified his suave appearance.