Login | Forgot Password? | Join the Community
Norma Shearer ACTOR


Norma Shearer was born on August 10th, 1902 in Montréal, Québec, Canada with the birth name Edith Norma Shearer.  She spent most of her childhood in Montreal and was brought up in a very financially secure household due to her fathers construction business.   Her parents marriage however was not a very happy one, and her mother chose to focus all her efforts on her daughter hoping one day young Norma would get a career as a professional pianist.   

At the age of fourteen, Norma won a beauty contest and soon after, her parents marriage fell apart and her fathers business suffered a tremendous loss, Norma's mother, Edith sold her daughters piano and she left with her three children to New York.    

Edith took both her daughters to try and get them a role in the "follies" with  Ziegfeld, however they rejected Norma, based solely on her appearance.  She found out that Universal Pictures was looking for nine girls to play extras in a film and so she applied.  She got the part and several other small parts as an extra followed in a number of films such as, "Way Down East" (1920).  

She was still struggling financially and so she also became involved in some modeling work and became a new model for Springfield Tires.  A year after living in New York her break into the film industry finally came with a role in, "The Stealers" (1921) which got her attention from a producer, Hal Roach.  She was soon offered a contract with Louis B. Mayer Pictures in 1923.  This followed with a $250 a week contract for six months.     

In 1923, her and her mother left New York for Los Angeles to begin her new career.  She took on a role in the film, "Pleasure Mad" (1923) and at first she struggled to get along with the director, but after she proved she could handle anything, she was then cast in eight more films.
When MGM formed in 1924, she was cast in the film, "He Who Gets Slapped" (1924) and was finally getting the attention she longed for becoming one of MGM's top box office attractions.  In 1925, they signed her to a new contract with quite a substantial salary increase of $1000 per week, which soon would go to as high as $5000 per week.  

In total by 1927, she had made thirteen silent films with MGM and she was now getting an offer to work on her first prestigious film, "The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg" (1927) which soon followed with the silent film era coming to an end.  Many in the industry had a hard time making the transition from silent films to sound, but Norma refused to let it affect her career.
Her first 'talkie' role was in, "The Trial of Mary Dugan" (1929) which was a huge success.  She then took on a whole new image and tried to lose her "good girl" looks.  This helped her get cast in a very racy film called, "The Divorce" (1930) in which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.  As her career progressed she was cast in a number of films such as, "Let Us Be Gay" (1930), "Strangers May Kiss" (1931), "A Free Soul" (1931), "Private Lives" (1931) and "Riptide" (1934).  She was an absolute box office hit in almost every film role she took on. 
Her most successful film was yet to come.  In 1934, she took a role in the film, "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" which made a profit of $668,000.  In total, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress six times, but won only once.  However, that did not discourage her from continuing to challenge herself and take on even more film roles.
Some of her other well known films were, "The Women" (1939) and "Escape" (1940), but then with her role on "Her Cardboard Lover" (1942) being unsuccessful at the box office, she decided it was time to call it quits.   
When Norma retired from acting, she still tried to remain active in other ways.  She was responsible for making the discovery of a young actress, Janet Leigh as well as discovering Robert Evans  who became an actor and producer.   
Norma Shearer married twice throughout her lifetime, first to Irving Thalberg from 1927 through 1936 when he passed away and together the couple had two children, Irving Jr. and Katherine.  She then married a ski instructor in 1942, Martin Arrouge, who was eleven years younger then her and they remained together until she passed away on June 12th, 1983 in Woodland Hills, California from pneumonia.  She is interred at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale California.  

Norma is commemorated on a set of postage stamps that were issued in 2008 honoring Canadians who worked in Hollywood.  She was also honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the Motion Picture Industry.      


1942 Her Cardboard Lover 
1942 We Were Dancing
1940 Escape 
1939 The Women
1939 Idiot's Delight 
1938 Marie Antoinette
1936 Romeo and Juliet
1934 The Barretts of Wimpole Street
1934 Riptide 
1932 Strange Interlude 
1932 Smilin' Through
1931 Private Lives
1931 A Free Soul 
1931 Strangers May Kiss 
1930 Let Us Be Gay 
1930 The Divorcee 
1929 Their Own Desire 
1929 The Last of Mrs. Cheyney 
1929 The Trial of Mary Dugan 
1928 A Lady of Chance 
1928 The Actress 
1928 The Latest from Paris 
1927 The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg 
1927 After Midnight 
1927 The Demi-Bride 
1926 Upstage 
1926 The Waning Sex 
1926 The Devil's Circus 
1925 His Secretary
1925 The Tower of Lies
1925 A Slave of Fashion 
1925 Pretty Ladies 
1925 Waking Up the Town
1925 Lady of the Night
1925 Excuse Me 
1924 The Snob 
1924 He Who Gets Slapped 
1924 Empty Hands
1924 Broken Barriers
1924 Broadway After Dark 
1924 Blue Water 
1924 The Wolf Man
1924 The Trail of the Law
1923 Lucretia Lombard
1923 The Wanters 
1923 Pleasure Mad
1923 The Devil's Partner
1923 Man and Wife
1923 A Clouded Name 
1922 The Bootleggers
1922 Channing of the Northwest 
1922 The Man Who Paid
1922 The Leather Pushers 
1922 The End of the World 
1920 The Stealers 
1920 Torchy's Millions 
1920 The Restless Sex 
1920 Way Down East 
1920 The Flapper 
1919 The Star Boarder     

Matinee Classics - A Free Soul starring Norma Shearer, Leslie Howard, Clark Gable, Lionel Barrymore and James Gleason
Matinee Classics - Norma Shearer
Matinee Classics - Riptide starring Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery, Herbert Marshall, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Richard 'Skeets' Gallagher, Ralph Forbes, Lilyan Tashman, Arthur Jarrett, Earl Oxford, Helen Jerome, George K. Arthur, Marilyn Spinner, Phyllis Coghlan, Howard Chaldecott and Halliwell Hobbes
Matinee Classics - Romeo and Juliet starring Leslie Howard, Norma Shearer, John Barrymore, Edna May Oliver, Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith, Andy Devine, Conway Tearle, Ralph Forbes, Henry Kolker, Robert Warwick, Virginia Hammond, Reginald Denny and Violet Kemble Cooper
Matinee Classics - Romeo and Juliet starring Leslie Howard, Norma Shearer, John Barrymore, Edna May Oliver, Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith, Andy Devine, Conway Tearle, Ralph Forbes, Henry Kolker, Robert Warwick, Virginia Hammond, Reginald Denny and Violet Kemble Cooper

Copyright © 2014 Matinee Classics LLC - All Rights Reserved. Developed by: VividConcept.com