Norma Shearer, the first lady of MGM, was born Edith Norma Shearer on August 10, 1902in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Norma Shearer was one of the most popular actresses in the world from the mid-1920s until her retirement in 1942.
Today, Norma Shearer is widely celebrated as one of cinema's feminist pioneers, the first actress to make it acceptable to be single and not a virgin on screen.
Norma Shearer was nominated for an Academy Award on six occassions, winning for her role in The Divorcee (1930). The year she won for The Divorcee she was also nominated for Their Own Desire. Her other nominations include for A Free Soul in 1931, The Barretts of Wimpole in 1934, Romeo and Juliet in 1936, and Marie Antoinette in 1938.
Norma Shearer's first film appearance was as an uncredited extra in The Star Boarder in 1919. Her last film was Her Cardboard Lover in 1942.
In addition to her oscar nominated roles, her other films include The Women (1939), Idiot's Delight (1939), Strange Interlude (1932), Their Own Desire (1929), A Lady of Chance (1928), and Pretty Ladies (1925).
She and her brother Douglas Shearer (an academy award winning sound director) were the first Oscar-winning brother and sister.
Norma Shearer turned down the role of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind (1939) and the titled Role in Mrs. Miniver (1942). After her retirement in 1942, she was offered the role of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard (1950) but she turned it down.
However, even after retirement, Norma maintained an interest in the film industry. While staying at a ski lodge, she noticed a photo of the receptionist's daughter and recommended her to MGM - that girl in the photo was Janet Leigh.
Norma Shearer married Irving Thalberg on September 29, 1927 and remained married until his death on September 14, 1936. Together they had two children.
Six years after the death of Irving Thalberg, she married a ski instructor 20 years her junior and retired from the screen forever. They would remain married until her death in 1982.
Norma Shearer passed away on June 12, 1983 at the age of 80 due to complications from pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease.