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Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer (August 10, 1902June 12, 1983) was an Canadian actress born in Montreal, Quebec.

Norma Shearer

She was one of the Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood. Starting as a film extra in 1920, she was already a popular star in 1927 when she married MGM's chief of production (and second in command) Irving Thalberg, with whom she had two children. Shearer won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Divorcee in 1930.This was one of a series of roles in sophisticated yet racy pre-code dramas, and Norma was at her best. She was nominated the same year for her role in Their Own Desire, in 1931 for her role in A Free Soul, in 1934 for The Barretts of Wimpole Street, in 1936 for Romeo and Juliet, and in 1938 for Marie Antoinette which was reputedly her favorite role.

Never a great beauty, and relatively restrained in both comedy and tragedy, she settled mostly for "Great Woman" roles. Her screen persona remains indistinct, but particularly after Thalberg's death in 1936 she had a series of surpringly effective performances in smaller and more offbeat vehicles.

Following Thalberg's death, Shearer embarked upon a series of little known but enthusiastic love affairs, including one with teenage film star Mickey Rooney and tough-guy actor George Raft. She retired from acting in 1942 and married Martín Arrouge, a ski enthusiast twenty years her junior. Confounding the skeptics, they were still happily married at the time of her death, though in her declining years she reportedly called Arrouge "Irving."

She has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6636 Hollywood Boulevard, and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, in a crypt emblazoned with the name "Norma Arrouge," next to fellow film star Jean Harlow.


See also

Some sources, such as Shearer biographer Lawrence J. Quirk, state 1900 as Shearer's year of birth. Quirk is the nephew of Photoplay editor James Quirk, who aided the actress in her early career, and knew Shearer personally from 1919 until his death in 1932. (Source: Norma: The Story of Norma Shearer, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1988)

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