Eva Stiberg was a much-loved actor around the turn of the twentieth century.
Eva Stiberg was the daughter of Axel Nilsson and his wife Rut, both of whom hailed from Västerbotten. Her father ran a shoe shop and a cinema before becoming employed at the brewery Hamburgerbryggeriet. Eva Stiberg was born in Strömsund, Jämtland, in 1920. Three years later, in 1923, the family moved to Stockholm. Interests in culture, and particularly music, were prevalent in her childhood home. After finishing her schooling Eva Stiberg held several jobs, including working as a salesperson and a seamstress. In 1940 her mother registered her for an official film try-out organised by Terrafilm film company at Gröna Lund amusement park. Eva Stiberg was one of 500 applicants who all performed a scene together with Edvin Adolphson. She was selected as the winner and was given a student’s contract with the company. She then took drama lessons with Hilda Borgström and in 1942 she was accepted at the Dramaten (royal dramatic theatre) drama school, where her fellow students included Anita Björk, Mai Zetterling and Ulf Palme.
After completing her acting studies Eva Stiberg worked at Dramaten for a time, making her debut performance on that stage in 1945 in a production called Två trådar. She spent what became her public breakthrough years, from 1947–1950, working at Malmö theatre when she truly became a star. From 1950–1952 she then worked at Gothenburg city theatre, followed by a year with Riksteatern, and then a return to Malmö stadsteater from 1953–1962 where she again enjoyed great success. She then came back to Stockholm where she made sporadic appearances before completely retiring. Throughout these years Eva Stiberg also worked elsewhere, including at Oscarsteatern, Skansens friluftsteater (open air theatre), and Scalateatern.
Eva Stiberg’s stage roles included, at Malmö stadsteater, Ruth Atkins in Beyond the Horizon in 1947, Jessica in The Merchant of Venice in 1948, Lise in Drömmarnas berg also in 1948, the title role in Yerma in 1949, the mother in Avgrunden also in 1949. Then at Gothenburg city theatre she played Ingeborg Thomsen in Kaj Munk’s Kärlek in 1950, the title role in Lysistrate in 1951, Grusja in Kalendergeschichten also in 1951, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 1952. On returning to Malmö stadsteater she played Shen Te/Shui Ta in Flickan och gudarna (The Good Person of Szechwan) in 1953, Geraldine Hubles in L’Ora della Fantasia in 1954, Olivia in Twelfth Night in 1955, Margaret in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1956, and Ingrid in Peer Gynt in 1957. At Oscarsteatern she played Hélène Liebinger in Tre valser in 1962. In 1968 Eva Stiberg performed her final roles, including as Mrs Rosell in Moberg’s A.P. Rosell, bankdirektören at Scalateatern in Stockholm.
Eva Stiberg made her film debut in 1941 when she played a minor role in Anders Henrikson’s drama Livet går vidare. She went on to appear in around 25 films throughout the rest of her career. These include Eva in 1948, Starkare än lagen in 1951, När syrenerna blomma in 1952, Unmarried Mothers in 1953, Ursula – flickan i finnskogarna in 1953, Seger i mörker in 1954, Wild Birds in 1955, Vägen genom Skå in 1957, Bock i örtagård in 1958, Tjorven, Båtsman och Moses in 1964, and Tjorven och Mysak in 1966. Eva Stiberg also provided the Swedish voice for young Bambi in the 1942 Disney animation Bambi. Her former colleagues from drama school, Anita Björk and Mai Zetterling, also worked on that film, voicing some of Bambi’s friends.
Eva Stiberg also appeared on the radio, including on some productions by Radioteatern. Further, she also performed on television, in shows such as Missförståndet in 1957, Venetianskan in 1958, and Blodsbröllop in 1965, as well as in TV-series such as Vi på Saltkråkan in 1964, the Sveriges Television Christmas Calendar in 1972, Barnen i höjden, and Makt på spel in 1973. Playing the part of Märta Grankvist, the radiant, protective mother of Tjorven, Teddy, and Freddy, made her a public favourite throughout the country. This character portrayal was permanently associated with the idyll of summer and childhood adventures as depicted in the shows.
The other loving adults who were involved in the children’s lives were played by Bengt Eklund and Torsten Lilliecrona, the former depicting the island businessman and Märta’s husband Nisse whilst the latter played the father of the other family living on the island, the Melkerssons. This happy ensemble was seen on TV-screens across the country, making “Saltkråkan-summer” a familiar concept and the TV-series became a classic.
These “Saltkråkan” recordings were Eva Stiberg’s last major acting engagement. She retired early, around the end of the 1960s, bar a few minor exceptions, in order to devote herself completely to her family.
Eva Stiberg was a natural talent at acting, her warmth and her gentle persona combined with her refreshing naturalness, earthy sensuality, and strong presence, penetrated the silver screen and extended beyond the theatre stages. Her humour and joy in acting matched well with her invitingly open nature, and she was as much a pleasant person as she was lively. Eva Stiberg was also dark-haired, good-looking and stylish without the least hint of gaudiness and was described as “resembling Ava Gardner”. Like many others, this lively actress was best able to reveal her multifaceted talents on the stage. She could transform her own inner traits into living, believable, and strong female character roles. She did not hesitate to reveal herself completely or to give her all.
Eva Stiberg was married to car mechanic Lennart Stiberg, with whom she had a daughter, from 1942–1955 and then to the director Gert-Ove Andersson, with whom she had two sons, from 1955–1976.
Eva Stiberg died in Stockholm in 1990. Her remains lie at the memorial ground at Kungsholmen cemetery.