Norma Shearer

Norma Shearer, actor (born 11 August 1902 in Montréal, QC; died 12 June 1983 in Los Angeles, California). Norma Shearer, the daughter of a wealthy Montréal businessman, landed her debut role at MGM in 1920 after a successful modelling career in New York City. Although elegant and goodlooking, she was not the most beautiful woman on the MGM lot nor the best actress, but a fortuitous marriage to legendary MGM producer Irving Thalberg helped her to become one of the studio's leading ladies. She became known as "the First Lady of the Screen."

Norma Shearer could play light comedy or drama and was nominated for 6 Oscars over the length of her career. She won in 1930 for The Divorcée and was given the best actress award at the Venice Film Festival for Marie Antoinette — for which she was also nominated for an Academy Award — in 1938. She led MGM through the first 5 years of the sound era with a string of hits including Private Lives (1931) and The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934; Academy Award nomination for best actress). When Thalberg died unexpectedly in 1936, he left Shearer a major shareholder in MGM. She delivered a witty performance in George Cukor's The Women (1939), but her subsequent films were unsuccessful and she retired from acting, in 1942, a very wealthy woman.

Norma Shearer's other notable films include The Student Prince (1927), The Actress (1928), The Last of Mrs Cheyney (1929), Their Own Desire (1929; Academy Award nomination for best actress), A Free Soul (1931; Academy Award nomination for best actress), Strange Interlude (1932), Romeo and Juliet (1936; as Juliet, Academy Award nomination for best actress), Idiot's Delight (1939) and Her Cardboard Lover (1942).

At the 1931 Academy Awards ceremony, not only did Norma Shearer win best actress for The Divorcée, but she shared the stage with her older brother, Douglas Shearer, a technical genius who also won an Oscar that night, for sound recording. They were the first family members to win Oscars in the same year.

Norma Shearer was commemorated on a Canadian postage stamp in 2008.