“We can’t make retractions because they always sound weak and silly. And the minute you make a retraction, you’re not believed anyway. Isn’t that so?” – Norma Shearer
Source: “An open letter from Norma Shearer,” transcribed by Gladys Hall for Modern Screen Magazine.
Photo: George Hurrell
“My first experience almost had me whipped. Nothing but bits and small parts for a year. That first year is a bitter one for most girls who expect to realize ambition in short order. And so I quit in a huff.
“Then I began to see what a silly fool I’d been. Pride rankled as I saw myself a quitter. I began to get my bearings again. And more than ever I wanted to succeed in pictures. What finally drove me to make another effort was the meticulous care with which my family avoided the topic of a screen career. It was worse than taunt or chidings. I just had to come back.” — Norma Shearer
Source: Jack Jungmeyer (1924)
Photo: The Snob (1924)
A photograph from He Who Gets Slapped (1924)
Lady of the Night (1925)
“It is impossible to get anything made or accomplished without stepping on some toes; enemies are inevitable when one is a doer.” – Norma Shearer
“I am always hoping to get a role that shows me as I think I am. I think that would present me as just a normal, young, fun-loving, more or less ambitious, and more or less athletic, American girl. The roles that fall to me show me as something of a businesswoman type, the independent, courageous, self-reliant, modern woman.” — Norma Shearer in January 1927.
Likely written with the aid of a publicist.
Photo: After Midnight (1927)
“I had to give up smoking, found I could, and I’ll never get entangled in that form of slavery again. I shudder to think I used to smoke two packages a day. I am in perfect health now.” — Norma Shearer
Source: Alma Whitaker (1935)
Photo: After Midnight (1927)
Another production still from After Midnight (1927)
If you don’t recognize the Ambassador Hotel offhand, it is the French room redecorated to resemble a Parisian Cafe.
The occasion was a welcome home party thrown for Marion Davies after she returned from a three-month trip to Europe. The year is 1928.
Standing left to right, Lorraine Eddy, Matt Moore, Aileen Pringle, Louis B. Mayer, Gloria Swanson, Harry D’Arrast, Marion Davies, Louella Parsons, Ricardo Cortez, Charles Chaplin, Norma Shearer, Irving Thalberg, Harold Lloyd, and Robert Z. Leonard. Seated in the foreground are Harry Crocker, left, and William Haines.
The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1929)
Posing with Marion Davies at a costume party thought to have been thrown at the Davies’ Santa Monica Beach House around 1930.
With Basil Rathbone.
“This is the first thing I did on Norma Shearer. I did that at my own studio on Lafayette Park Place. And as a result, she got her role in The Divorcee. She came down there to my studio with her whole entourage in her yellow Rolls-Royce, which she always had in those days. You see, they weren’t making her sexy enough at the studio, that was the whole thing. The idea was to get her looking real wicked and siren-like. She felt that I had done it. Because she was not that type, you know, she didn’t have any of it. In fact, it was my idea to get her hair bushy – she never wore it that way. First of all, she had such a high forehead, she always looked too intellectual for the kind of role she wanted to play….Because of that session with Shearer, I got my contract with MGM.” — George Hurrell
The studio Hurrell took his famous photos of Norma Shearer was Studio 9 of The Granada Building at 672 S. LaFayette Park Place.
Source: John Kobal, People Will Talk
Photo: George Hurrell
“The most I am prepared to admit is that I may have seemed to look almost beautiful in some pictures when a cameraman was an artist.” — Norma Shearer, when pressed by a reporter to admit that she was beautiful.
Photo by George Hurrell.
“Sometimes I think we lay too much stress on freedom. No one can be absolutely free, When we cut every tie that binds us to our families or shed every responsibility toward other people, are we really free or are we merely alone?” — Norma Shearer
Source: Alice L. Tildesley (1936)
Photo: George Hurrell (1930)
With Robert Montgomery.
“A woman today is good, or she is bad, according to the way she does a thing – and not because of the thing itself.” — Norma Shearer
Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford, two MGM stars who had one of the longest-running Hollywood feuds, are seen here in 1932 at the Biltmore Hotel. Even in this photo, they look like they are trying to out-smile each other.
Shearer would later say, “I like and admire Joan. And I believe she feels the same way about me. I hope so. I think both of us have been hurt and embarrassed by the persistent stories of our rivalry and hatred…How could I hate Joan? She is so much like me. We have both been through so many of the same painful but invaluable molding processes. We have both had to fight desperately to overcome self-consciousness. We have both made ourselves over, both struggled to create an illusion of glamour and beauty.”
“Nobody else now prominent in Hollywood can walk across a drawing room or enact the hostess role at dinner with Norma Shearer’s sophistication. She has in a marked degree the manner and bearing of a woman of the world and always gives the impression of having any situation well in hand, no matter how ticklish it may be. In this respect, Norma is much the same in real life as she is on the screen. Nothing daunts her and she never falters.” – Darryl Zanuck in 1933.
“A photograph should first be a good likeness. It does not need to flatter you but it should show you at your best moment. I believe that the more simple a portrait, the better. Avoid elaborate drapes and jewelry.” — Norma Shearer
Photo: George Hurrell (1934)
“I haven’t all this poise and reserve attributed to me. Naturally, I don’t go around telling everybody how I feel about everything. I don’t consider that well-bred. I am not temperamental outside because working my way up I had to learn to control emotional violence. If I hadn’t, I soon would have been dispensed with.” – Norma Shearer
Source: Mayme Ober Peak (1934)
Romeo and Juliet (1936)
Norma Shearer and Louis B. Mayer attending Jean Harlow‘s funeral at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale on June 9, 1937. (LAPL 00115420)
“I have decided that I should not play Scarlett [O’Hara]. I am convinced that the majority of fans who think I should not play this kind of character on the screen are right. I appreciate tremendously the interest they have shown.” — Norma Shearer
Photographer: Laszlo Willinger (1938)