Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer


Norma Shearer
Film: South side of the 6600 block of Hollywood Boulevard
Born Edith N. Shearer on Aug. 10, 1902 in Montreal, Canada
Died June 12, 1983 of pneumonia in Motion Picture and Television Country House, CA

Norma Shearer was one of the last and most regal of Hollywood's film queens and one of the few to move successfully from silent to sound pictures.

For three decades she portrayed some of the world's most heroic and tragic women, ranging from Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Marie Antoinette to Shakespeare's Juliet.

Her silent films included: "The Stealers" (1920), "He Who Gets Slapped" (1924), "Tower of Lies" (1925), "The Waning Sex" (1926), "The Student Prince" (1927), "The Actress" (1928).

But her repertoire of talkies was even larger: "The Trial of Mary Dugan" (1929), "The Divorcee" (1930), "Let Us Be Gay" (1930), ""Strange Interlude" (1932), "Riptide" (1934), "Romeo and Juliet" (1936), "Marie Antoinette" (1938), "The Women" (1939), "Escape" (1940) and "Her Cardboard Lover" (1942).

Miss Shearer broke into the motion pictures industry as a bit player for Universal Studios.

She met Irving Thalberg (her future husband) just after he joined the Mayer Company (soon to become Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) as production chief, and was placed under Mayer contract in 1923.

Thalberg not only meticulously followed her career but insisted that he have a direct hand in her training and choice of roles. He was with her as she went from a simple shop girl, to a gang moll, to a society princess and more. They married in 1927.

In 1929 she was given the lead in "The Trial of Mary Dugan," only MGM's second talkie, and its success led to more roles for Miss Shearer.

The ultimate film accolade came in 1930 when she won her only Academy Award for her lead in "The Divorcee," adapted from Ursula Parrott's best-seller, "Ex-Wife."

Thalberg's death in 1936 signaled the end of a legendary film era and the beginning of Miss Shearer's decline at MGM.

She went into seclusion for 18 months but emerged to sign a three-year MGM contract at $150,000 a film.

In 1942 Shearer made her last film, "Her Cardboard Lover." On a vacation after the film she met a ski instructor, Martin Arrouge, whom she married a months later.

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    Academy Awards

    Year Category Work
    1929 Best Actress The Divorcee Win
    1929 Best Actress Their Own Desire Nomination
    1930 Best Actress A Free Soul Nomination
    1934 Best Actress The Barretts of Wimpole Street Nomination
    1936 Best Actress Romeo and Juliet Nomination
    1938 Best Actress Marie Antoinette Nomination

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