One of Sweden’s most iconic press and media profiles during the latter half of the 20th century was born Marianne Calonius in the city of Västerås in 1918. Her parents were civil engineer Harry Calonius and physiotherapist Ragnhilld Olson Gylner, the daughter of industrialist Carl M. Olson, local politician and founder of the Church of Bethel congregation in the town of Sunne. After her mother’s death at the age of five months and her father’s move to Paris shortly after, she grew up with her grandparents, attended girl school in Västerås and married aviation lieutenant Håkan Höök Nilsson in 1938. In 1944, now with two young children in the addition, the Höök Nilsson family moved to Stockholm, the city that would be her home base and working place for the forthcoming centuries, also during her international sojourns.
Marianne Höök got her start as a writer in the late 1940s, among other things through a series of contributions for the popular women’s magazine Damernas Värld in 1949 with headers like “Modern beauty care”, “We thrive at home” and “Our wardrobe”. The interest in the comely, homely and fashionable (her own well-dressed elegance was widely praised – at one point in a popular hit couplet by the equally popular Karl Gerhard) also contained an increasingly emancipated tone; her keen eye fixed early on all sorts of irregularities concerning women, men and their respective more or less voluntary positions. An equally keen sense of humour furthermore sharpened her weapon of choice: a stinging pen that would become synonymous with the name Marianne Höök to this very day.
Starting out in 1946, she wrote for a number of years for several of the publisher Åhlén & Åkerlund’s magazines, mainly Idun and Veckojournalen, for which she became one of the star writers. Here, in 1954, under the vignette Filmremsan (”The Film Strip”), she began to review films, something she also came to do when she started writing for Svenska Dagbladet in 1956 – where her contribution became extensive. In addition to participating in the coverage of the latest premieres (including occasionally as “red carpet” reporter), both domestic and international names were portrayed and interviewed, sometimes directly out on Bromma airport with the talent just flown in from Hollywood or the continent. She also reported from film festivals and scrutinized the film industry and its various trends. As the culmination of her film-writing career, she published one of the first books about Ingmar Bergman in 1962, simply called “Ingmar Bergman”. Here, she takes a close look at the private side of Bergman and the parts of his own life that have taken shape through the films and the characters in it, not least the female protagonists. In the process, she would form long-lasting friendships with people like Harriet Andersson and Ingrid Thulin. As for Bergman himself, he was at first somewhat incensed by her biting remarks; decades later, he would relent and give her credit for “actually being right in so many things”.
A pleasant, well-articulated speaking voice led to a popular career in the radio broadcast media where she was given additional space for her finely calibrated observations of trends and tendencies, an area she excelled in and also ventilated in various panel and talk shows on television. In 1953 she published the city portrait ”Stockholmsskärlek” (“Stockholm Love”) together with the photographer Hans Hammarskiöld. With another photographer, Georg Oddner, she did travel reports in 1955 in the Soviet Union and 1956 in Japan, both for Veckojournalen, and also wrote reports from abroad for the Tidningen Vi magazine.
With her second husband, director Torgny Wickman, who at the time ran the newsreel film company Svensk Journalfilm AB, she travelled around Europe and helped out on his work trips during their time together 1947-56. As a correspondent for Svenska Dagbladet, she followed the Swedish prime minister Tage Erlander’s state visits to Pakistan, India and Iran in 1960-61, which would lead her to a growing commitment to both world issues and politics. In Iran, she also met her third husband, diplomat Dick Hitchens-Bergström, and then spent a couple of years as a combined ambassador’s wife and foreign correspondent in Tehran. Rifts between the two roles occasionally arose, like in an infamous interview she did with shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, resulting in a text that was noticeably docile in benefit of the controversial sovereign.
She also caused havoc in some Swedish salons when she left the conservative Svenska Dagbladet in 1967 and became a member of the Social Democratic Party; the detractors called her a “goose liver proletarian”. Her new writing arena was the more left-leaning Aftonbladet, where her weekly column “Tyckt” (”Reflected”) (launched in SvD a few years earlier) appeared every Saturday and in a truly personal tone discussed topics such as tax fraud, racial discrimination, mod culture, Rhodesia, Biafra, Wallenberg, Olof Palme (very loyally), becoming middle-aged, women’s chatting and men’s speech and the right to not be harassed. From time to time she would also include a film review. She published a many of these chronicles in the collections “Tyckt” (1967) and ”Vän av ordning” (“Keeper of Order”, 1968). She also gave lectures on a regular basis, including a speech on the theme of the outdated views of women on film at the annual meeting of the National Association of Professional Women in Norrköping in 1966.
Marianne Höök’s hands-on connection with the film medium and the reason for her presence on these pages started off as a script supervisor for two films in the mid-40s: Flickan och djävulen (”The Girl and the Devil” by Erik “Hampe” Faustman, 1944) and Maria på Kvarngården (”Maria at Kvarngården” by Arne Mattsson, 1945 ). These two contributions are her only ones as a film worker “on the ground”. She was regularly employed in the 60’s by Mai Zetterling and her partner David Hughes as translator of their scripts for Loving Couples (Älskande par, 1964), Night Games (Nattlek, 1966) and Flickorna (The Girls, 1966) – all originally written in English.
She did a number of translations of English plays and books, including Norman Douglas’ “Venus in the Kitchen: or Love’s Cookery Book” (1953) and wrote sketches for revues and television, including the entertainment show “Estrad” (1967-68). In the satire show “Mosebacke Monarki” she appears as Mrs. Desirée Axelsson-Fromm born Lindgren in episode 1456 of the weekly series “Fold-out homes – in colour”, playing very much against type in curlers and worn-out knee socks – and in black and white.
In 2008, 38 years after her death, the journalist and friend Annette Kullenberg published two full volumes about Marianne Höök – the text anthology ”Får man vara lite tilltalande i det här samhället?” (“Is it alright to be a little appealing in this society?”), which also contains the entire “Ingmar Bergman” book, and the biography book/friend portrait ”Jag var självlockig, moderlös, gripande och ett monster av förljugenhet” (“I was naturally curly, motherless, gripping and a monster of deceit”). Two radio documentaries have also been made – ”Var är Marianne Höök?” (“Where is Marianne Höök?”) by Bodil Malmsten (1988) and Anneli Jordahl and Katarina Wikars’ ”Får man inte se tilltalande ut i ett rättvist samhälle? Ett porträtt av Marianne Höök” (“Can’t you look attractive in a fair society? A portrait of Marianne Höök”, 2003).
Jan Lumholdt (2020, translated in 2021)
Main profession: Screenwriter
Maria på Kvarngården (1945)
Flickan och Djävulen (1944)
Älskande par (1964)