Norma Talmadge – photos and quotes

Norma Talmadge

“Personally I love to see pictures of young girls in their modern attire, no matter how scanty it is.”Norma Talmadge

Photographer: Charlotte Fairchild


Norma Talmadge

“Talk of luck, the day that I went down there to the studio for the first time is the sort of day you read about in books. I was fifteen…and there had been a grand dispute at home as to what should be done with me. I was quite incorrigible, – played hooky all the time and would never study, – and it had been decided to take me out of school and make a stenographer or something out of me. Then suddenly mother was seized with a great idea. She had been reading about the growth of the movies, and she conceived the idea of my going into the picture game.”Norma Talmadge

Source: Arthur Hornblow, Jr. (1915)


Norma Talmadge

“No, I was never on the stage, except when I was a pupil at Erasmus four years ago. I left Erasmus School to join the Vitagraph. Sorry to say I was a very bad student.” — Norma Talmadge

Source: (1914)


Norma Talmadge faces

“Oh, no, I had never really acted in my life, – never even in an amateur play. But, all the same, there was something in me that made me love the ‘make-believe.’ I had the – dramatic instinct, I think you call it. When I was just out of baby clothes, I used to pay the kids in the neighborhood pins to come in and watch me perform on an inverted wash-tub. What did I do? – Nothing, – just made faces and kicked! I’ve always loved to make  faces!”Norma Talmadge

Source: Arthur Hornblow, Jr. (1915)


Norma Talmadge“So my dear little mamma thought she saw dramatic talent in me and came to the conclusion that it might as well be put to some use. I was crazy about the movies at the time. I used to go all the time to see them – stayed away from school to do it sometimes! – and I was especially fond of Florence Turner and Maurice Costello. We didn’t know their names then, and we called them ‘Dimples’ and ‘Curly,’ – and when mother made her suggestion, my first thought was to go where they were!” — Norma Talmadge

Photo: A Pictorial History of the Silent Screen 


Norma Talmadge (Bizarre Los Angeles)

“So off we went to the Vitagraph Studio, – they had the old building then, and we scurried around in a terrible tangle of scenery and props, getting in everybody’s way, and wondering what to do. Nobody would pay the least attention to us, and just as we were about to give it up, dear old Charles Kent, the famous Vitagraph director, walked by. I touched him on the arm, and the next moment was sorry I had, for he did seem so busy. But he turned around, and, with a kindly appraising look, he said, ‘A job, eh? All right, you’re engaged. Come around tomorrow morning, – we’re just starting a new play with a fine part just your type.’ And he said I’d get twenty-five dollars a week to start with! I almost fainted, – I didn’t think there was that much money in the world!”Natalie Talmadge


Norma Talmadge“If I had known anything at all about the business, I should have probably been frightened to death at the very thought of going on and trying to do what I had to do. But as it was, I just didn’t care, – it was another case of ignorance being bliss! I took things as they came and learned with experience. It all seems like a dream now, – a wonderful dream that is still going on.”Norma Talmadge

Source: Arthur Hornblow, Jr. (1915)



A slightly different story of how Norma Talmadge got her start is as follows:


Norma Talmadge

“It all looked so easy that I made up my mind that I could do it, too, and I never gave my mother any peace until she let me apply at the Vitagraph studio to see whether they’d take me on. Of course, now I know that it isn’t easy at all and perhaps my mother knew that, too, and just let me try because she was so sure that nothing would come of it. But at any rate, I did try, and here I am.”Norma Talmadge

Source: Elsie Vance (1915)


Norma Talmadge posing“To tell you the truth, I didn’t at all realize what I was doing. I went into it for the money – a mercenary but effective motive. Now it’s art for art’s sake.”Norma Talmadge

Source: Marjorie Gleyre Lachmund (1916)


Norma Talmadge

“Well, I get up about seven or eight; have breakfast (grapefruit and cocoa, usually)’ get to Vitagraph studio about ten; work until done for the day, with a little light luncheon at noon with some of the girls – Miss Burns, sister Constance or “Mama” Rose Tapley – and I sometimes take a walk before dinner, which is at six. I have a fine appetite, and what I like best is a boiled dinner, and particularly homemade apple pie – oh, that’s great! In the evening I go to a picture theater sometimes, and once in a while, we have friends call. I love Eva Tanguay and Gertrude Hoffman. I enjoy walking and motor-boating….I like baseball and travel, but I have not done much traveling yet – except I went to Harlem once. I don’t care much for fashion and dress and am not always watching the styles, as some do. The water has a wonderful fascination for me at night – I love the mysterious and things that are odd and different. I don’t care much for business, and I sometimes even forget my pay envelope. Sometimes I start to cry when the costumer sends me a gypsy dress or a fisherman’s bodice that is fit for a masquerade. It’s then that I go shopping, sometimes in out-of-the-way places, and hunt around till I find the real thing. Yes, I have a number of rather intimate friends, but my mother is my real pal, and we always do our shopping together.”Norma Talmadge

Source: 1914

Purchase your Fine Art America Print, Coffee Mug, T-Shirt, etc. of this image by pressing here!


Norma Talmadge 1916“I haven’t had time to feel at all. I have become very fond of California. But I simply can’t stand any place for more than six months at a time. I guess I have a chronic case of wanderlust…In California, I found I had to depend upon myself almost entirely for amusement.”Norma Talmadge

Source: Marjorie Gleyre Lachmund (1916)


Norma Talmadge 1915“I knew it would kill me publicly if I stayed, but Vitagraph had so many stars that I wanted to be featured more extensively. At last, my great ambition has been realized: I was starred and well-treated by Fine Arts, but here I am now with a company all my own – I’m ‘captain and cook and bosun, too,’ and feel as though I was just embarking for a great adventure.”Norma Talmadge

Source: Marjorie Gleyre Lachmund (1916)


Norma Talmadge“You know, when I watch a favorite of mine on the screen, I pay no attention to the play itself. After it is over, I cannot recollect anything about the story. I am always intent on every movement of the character.”Norma Talmadge 

Source: Marjorie Gleyre Lachmund (1916)


Norma Talmadge, circa 1916. (Bizarre Los Angeles)


Norma Talmadge gardening (Bizarre Los Angeles)


Norma Talmadge The Del's Needle 1916“You see, I become so wrapt up in the character that I do not realize how much I am doing. Fine Arts is different from other companies with which I have been associated. Most companies stop work about five o’clock. Fine Arts stopped only when a scene is finished. I remember one time we started to take a boudoir scene at seven ”clock at night and did not finish until ten next morning. Of course, we were dreadfully tired, but I really think we did better work than during the daytime. There seems to be more inspiration during the night when only the artificial lights are used and there is no unsympathetic sunlight to destroy the glamour.”Norma Talmadge

Source: Marjorie Gleyre Lachmund (1916)

Photo: The Devil’s Needle (1916)


The Devil's Needle 1916

The Devil’s Needle (1916). With Tully Marshall.


Norma Talmadge applies lipstick at her dressing table, c. 1919.


Norma Talmadge in 1919. (Bizarre Los Angeles)



Norma Talmadge in 1919 (Bizarre Los Angeles)


Norma Talmadge in 1922. Bizarre Los Angeles



Norma Talmadge

“All films cannot be for children. Sex and money are part of everyday life and a picture must have a background. Pictures portraying a life must have these factors.”Norma Talmadge in 1922.


Sell Art Online


Norma Talmadge

Photographer: C.S. Bull (1923)


Norma Talmadge (Bizarre Los Angeles)


Norma Talmadge in “The Lady” (1925).


Art Prints


Art Prints


Canvas Art


Norma Talmadge (Bizarre Los Angeles)


Norma Talmadge

“If a person drank coffee for breakfast every morning for ten or fifteen years and suddenly changed to cocoa or tea, it might be rather difficult to become accustomed to the transition. Naturally, I am still a bit ‘on edge’ regarding talkies, but I am interested in them — decidedly so.”Norma Talmadge


Norma Talmadge Gilbert Roland

Norma Talmadge and Gilbert Roland in The Woman Disputed (1928). The film was actually her “talkie” debut, however, the only known print to exist is a silent version.


Norma Talmadge as "The Woman Disputed" (1928). Bizarre Los Angeles

The Woman Disputed (1928)



Gilbert Roland Norma Talmadge

“The reason I never have exploited my legs is due chiefly to circumstances. When I first started in the motion picture business I was in Brooklyn. I made my first pictures in New York and Chicago. Had I been living in California and frequenting the bathing beaches, my career might have been quite different than it has been. I probably would have met Mack Sennett in the days when he was at his height and would have started in the film world as a Sennett bathing beauty. However, that was not the case. I started playing serious bits and gradually developed into the dramatic side of the industry. Ever since then my work has been largely in serious and dramatic roles, although I have made semi-comedy productions. Naturally, such a career has given me no chance to display my legs.”Norma Talmadge in 1929.

Here she is, posing poolside with Gilbert Roland


Norma Talmadge at her Santa Monica beach home in 1929.


Gilbert Holand and Norma Talmadge spend Christmas in Chamonix, France., circa 1930. (Bizarre Los Angeles) Spending Christmas with Gilbert Holand in Chamonix, France, circa 1930.


Norma Talmadge Building

Film Star’s Building on Strip to be Razed

by Frank Laro

Los Angeles Times, December 16, 1962

Only in Hollywood would a building erected as recently as 1931 be considered a historical landmark and become the object of sentimental reverence.

Such a structure is the three-storied Norma Talmadge Building at 9006 Sunset Blvd., soon to be razed by wrecking crews to make way for another Sunset Strip skyscraper.

It is doubtful, too, that elsewhere its impending collapse would be observed with a champagne party.

The occasion, at 5 p.m. Wednesday, will be “a toast to the stars in Hollywood…and to keeping them shining.”

Agent Behind Party

The party is the inspiration of Lee Atkinson, actors’ and literary agent, who with Robert George, insurance man, is the only tenant remaining in the building.

The atmosphere of the party, as befitting the structure’s namesake, one of the great stars of the silent screen, will be largely nostalgic.

Mary Pickford, Rod La Rocque, Vilma Banky, and Monte Blue are listed among its luminaries and honorary patrons include George Jessel, Norma Shearer, Francis X. Bushman, and Harold Lloyd.

Guests invited – a cross-section of stars of the past – have been asked to bring tokens of their careers to be held in trust for the new Hollywood Motion Picture Museum.

Purchased in 1935

There will be a toast to Miss Talmadge, who died in Las Vegas in 1958, years after she retired from the screen as a star who appeared in some 250 pictures.

The building was designed and constructed in 1931 by the late architect Roy Price on sparsely settled Sunset Blvd. “The Strip” had never been heard of in those days.

Miss Talmadge took over the building in 1935 and it was Jessel, then married to the star, who suggested that she affix her name to it.

The new towner that will replace it will be a $6,500,000 project on which construction will start Feb. 1. It will be a 15-story office building with a five-story parking structure.

It will be known as the Security Bank Building. The Raisin-Gomberg Development Co. and Ronald L. Buck are the builders.

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