NORMA SHEARER Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Edith Norma Shearer                                                           
Born: 10 August 1900 Montreal, Quebec, Canada                                       
Died: 12 June 1983 Woodland Hills, California                                       
Edith Norma Shearer (August 10, 1900 - June 12, 1983) was an Academy Award-winning   
Canadian-American actress.                                                           
Shearer was one of the most popular actresses in the world from the mid 1920's       
until her retirement in 1942. Her early films cast her as the girl-next-door but     
after her 1930 film The Divorcee, she played sexually liberated women in             
sophisticated contemporary comedies and dramas, as well as several historical       
and period films.                                                                   
Unlike many of her MGM contemporaries, Shearer's reputation went into steep         
decline after her retirement. By the time of her death in 1983, she was in           
danger of being known only for her "noble" roles in the regularly-revived The       
Women and Romeo and Juliet or, at worst, as a forgotten star.                       
However, Shearer's legacy began to be re-evaluated in the 1990's with the           
publication of two biographies and the TCM and VHS release of her films, many of     
them unseen since the implementation of the Production Code some sixty years         
before. Focus shifted to her pre-Code "divorcee" persona, and Shearer was           
rediscovered as "the exemplar of sophisticated [1930's] woman-hood... exploring     
love and sex with an honesty that would be considered frank by modern standards".   
Simultaneously, Shearer's ten year collaboration with portrait photographer         
George Hurrell and her lasting contribution to fashion through the designs of       
Adrian were also recognized.                                                         
Today, Norma Shearer is widely celebrated as one of cinema's feminist pioneers:     
"the first American film actress to make it chic and acceptable to be single and     
not a virgin on screen".                                                             
In March 2008, two of her most famous pre-code films, The Divorcee and A Free       
Soul, will be released on DVD.