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NORMA SHEARER

RH_Louise_Norma_Shearer

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS

Full Name: Edith Norma Shearer

Description: Actress, USA

Known For: The Barretts of Wimpole Street, made in 1934 was also wonderful.

Date Born: 10th August 1902
Location Born: Montreal,, Canada

Date Died: 12th June 1983
Location Died: Woodland Hills, California, United States of America

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BIOGRAPHICAL PROFILE

Norma Shearer

A Canadian-American actress.

Shearer was one of the most popular actresses in North America from the mid-1920s through the 1930s.

Her early films cast her as the girl-next-door, but for most of the Pre-Code film era (beginning with the 1930 film The Divorcee, for which she won an Oscar for Best Actress), she played sexually liberated women in sophisticated contemporary comedies. Later she appeared in historical and period films.

Unlike many of her MGM contemporaries, Shearer’s fame declined steeply after retirement. By the time of her death in 1983, she was largely remembered at best for her “noble” roles in The Women, Marie Antoinette, and Romeo and Juliet.

Shearer’s legacy began to be re-evaluated in the 1990s 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.

Shearer is widely celebrated by some 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, were released on DVD.

Shearer’s childhood was spent in Montreal and was one of privilege due to the success of her father’s construction business. However, the marriage between her parents was not a happy one. Andrew Shearer was prone to manic depression and “moved like a shadow or a ghost around the house,” while her mother Edith was attractive, flamboyant and stylish, prompting gossip that she was a heroin addict and unfaithful to her husband.

Neither rumor was ever proven, but Edith proved to be bored with her marriage very early on and focused her energy on Norma, who she decided would one day become a famous concert pianist.

Shearer was interested in music as well, but after seeing a vaudeville show for her ninth birthday, announced her intention to become an actress. Edith offered support but, as Shearer entered adolescence, became secretly fearful that her daughter’s physical flaws would jeopardize her chances. Shearer herself “had no illusions about the image I saw in the mirror.”

She acknowledged her “dumpy figure, with shoulders too broad, legs too sturdy, hands too blunt”, and was also acutely aware of her small eyes that appeared crossed due to a cast in her right eye. But by her own admission, she was “ferociously ambitious, even as a young girl” and planned to overcome her deficiencies through careful camouflage, sheer determination and charm.

The childhood and adolescence that Shearer once described as “a pleasant dream” ended in 1918, when her older sister, Athole, suffered her first serious mental breakdown and her father’s company collapsed.

Forced to move into a small, dreary house in a “modest” Montreal suburb, the sudden plunge into poverty only strengthened Shearer’s determined attitude: “At an early age, I formed a philosophy about failure. Perhaps an endeavor, like my father’s business, could fail, but that didn’t mean Father had failed.”

Edith Shearer thought otherwise. Within weeks, she had left her husband and moved into a cheap boarding house with her two daughters. A few months later, encouraged by her brother, who believed his niece should try her luck in “the picture business”, then operating largely on the East Coast, Edith sold her daughter’s piano and bought three train tickets for New York. Also in her pocket was a letter of introduction for Norma, acquired from a local theatre owner, to Florenz Ziegfeld, who was currently preparing a new season of his famous Ziegfeld Follies.

Early career.

In January 1920, the three Shearer women arrived in New York, each of them dressed up for the occasion. “I had my hair in little curls,” Shearer remembered, “and I felt very ambitious and proud.”

Her heart sank, however, when she saw their rented apartment: “There was one double bed, a cot with no mattress and a stove with one gas jet. The communal bathroom was at the end of a long dimly lit hallway. Athole and I took turns sleeping with mother in the bed, but sleep was impossible anyway—the elevated trains rattled right past our window every few minutes.”

The introduction to Ziegfeld proved equally disastrous. He turned Shearer down flat, reportedly calling her a “dog”, and criticized her crossed eyes and stubby legs. She continued doing the rounds with her determination undimmed: “I learned that Universal Pictures was looking for eight pretty girls to serve as extras. Athole and I showed up and found fifty girls ahead of us. An assistant casting director walked up and down looking us over.

He passed up the first three and picked the fourth. The fifth and sixth were unattractive, but the seventh would do, and so on, down the line until seven had been selected—and he was still some ten feet ahead of us. I did some quick thinking. I coughed loudly and, when the man looked in the direction of the cough, I stood on my tiptoes and smiled right at him. Recognizing the awkward ruse to which I’d resorted, he laughed openly and walked over to me and said, ‘You win, Sis. You’re Number Eight.'”

Other extra parts followed, including one in Way Down East, helmed by director D. W. Griffith. Taking advantage of a break in filming and standing shrewdly near a powerful arc light, Shearer introduced herself to Griffith and began to confide her hopes for stardom. “The Master looked down at me, studied my upturned face in the glare of the arc, and shook his eagle head. Eyes no good, he said. A cast in one and far too blue; blue eyes always looked blank in close-up. You’ll never make it, he declared, and turned solemnly away.”

Still undeterred, Shearer risked some of her savings on a consultation with Dr. William Bates, a pioneer in the treatment of incorrectly aligned eyes and defective vision. He wrote out a series of muscle-strengthening exercises that, after many years of daily practice, would successfully conceal Shearer’s cast for long periods of time on the screen.

She spent hours in front of the mirror, exercising her eyes and striking poses that concealed or improved the physical flaws noted by Ziegfeld or Griffith. At night, she sat in the galleries of Broadway theatres, studying the entrances of Ina Claire, Lynn Fontanne, and Katharine Cornell.

In desperate need of money, Shearer resorted to some modeling work, which proved successful. On her modeling career, she commented: “I could smile at a cake of laundry soap as if it were dinner at the Ritz.

I posed with a strand of imitation pearls. I posed in dust-cap and house dress with a famous mop, for dental paste and for soft drink, holding my mouth in a whistling pose until it all but froze that way.” She became the new model for Kelly-Springfield Tires, was bestowed with the title “Miss Lotta Miles” and depicted seated inside the rim of a tire, smiling down at traffic from a large floodlit billboard.

Years later, MGM rival Joan Crawford would disparagingly refer to Shearer as “Miss Lotta Miles”.

Finally, a year after her arrival in New York, she received a break in film: fourth billing in a B-movie titled The Stealers (1921). More silent films followed, which brought her to the attention of producer Hal Roach, out from Hollywood searching for new talent. Early in 1923, after a successful meeting, Roach made Shearer an offer on behalf of Louis B. Mayer Pictures, run by mogul Louis B. Mayer. After three years of hardship, she found herself signing a contract for $250 a week for six months, with options for renewal and a test for a leading role in a major film called The Wanters.

Shearer left New York in the spring of 1923. Accompanied by her mother, she felt “dangerously sure of herself” as her train neared Los Angeles. Still not welcomed an hour after her arrival, she realized that there would be no star treatment from her new studio. Dispirited, she allowed Edith to hail them a taxi.

The next morning, Shearer went to the Mayer Company on Mission Road to meet with the vice-president, Irving Thalberg. Shearer was momentarily thrown by their confused introduction, but soon found herself “impressed by his air of dispassionate strength, his calm self-possession and the almost black, impenetrable eyes set in a pale olive face.”

The actress.

Shearer was less impressed, however, with her first screen test: “The custom then was to use flat lighting—to throw a great deal of light from all directions, in order to kill all shadows that might be caused by wrinkles or blemishes. But the strong lights placed on either side of my face made my blue eyes look almost white, and by nearly eliminating my nose, made me seem cross-eyed. The result was hideous.”

The day after the test had been screened for Mayer and Thalberg, cameraman Ernest Palmer found Shearer frantic and trembling in the hallway. Speaking with her, he was struck by her “fierce, almost raging disappointment” and, after viewing the test himself, agreed that she had been “poorly handled.”

Under Palmer’s own supervision, a second test was made and judged a success by the studio brass. The lead in The Wanters seemed hers, until the film’s director objected, finding her “unphotogenic”. Again, Shearer was to be disappointed, relegated to a minor role.

She accepted her next role in Pleasure Mad, knowing “it was well understood that if I didn’t deliver in this picture, I was through.” After only a few days of shooting, things were not looking good. Shearer was struggling.

Finally, the film’s director complained to Mayer that he could get nothing out of the young actress, and when summoned to Mayer’s office, she fully expected the axe to fall: “But to my surprise, Mr. Mayer’s manner was paternal. ‘There seems to be a problem,’ he said, ‘tell me about it.’ I told him that the director had shouted at me and frightened me. Nobody had warned me that Mayer was a better actor than any of us, and I was unprepared for what happened next. He staged an alarming outburst, screaming at me, calling me a fool and a coward, accusing me of throwing away my career because I couldn’t get on with a director. It worked.

I became tearful, but obstinate. ‘I’ll show you!’ I said to him. ‘You’ll see!’ Delighted, Mayer resumed the paternal act. ‘That’s what I wanted to hear,’ he said, smiling.”

Returning to the set, Shearer plunged into an emotional scene. “I took that scene lock, stock, and barrel, fur, fins and feathers,” she remembered, earning her the respect of her director and her studio. As a reward, Thalberg cast her in six films in eight months.

It was an apprenticeship that would serve Shearer well. By the time Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was formed in 1924 and she was cast in the studio’s first official production, He Who Gets Slapped, she had become one of MGM’s biggest box-office attractions.

In 1925, she signed a new contract paying her $1,000 a week, rising to $5,000 over the next five years. Soon after, she bought a house for herself and Edith, right under the Hollywood Sign, at 2004 Vine Street.

Irving Thalberg.

Shearer alongside Irving Thalberg, outside the White House in 1929Having become a star, Shearer’s new challenge was to remain one. There were many other talented actresses at the studio and she realized she would have to fight hard to stay ahead of the pack. Seeing that sensational newcomer Greta Garbo was one of a kind, she went to Thalberg and “demanded recognition as one of another kind”.

It was just one of the many visits she paid to his office, always to plead for better material, better parts. Thalberg would listen patiently, then invariably advise Norma to keep toeing the line, that MGM knew best, and that the movies she complained about had made her a popular actress. Occasionally Shearer would burst into tears, but this seemed to make “no more impression than rain on a raincoat.”

Privately, Thalberg was very impressed by Shearer. In a story conference, when her name was suggested to him for the part of a girl threatened with rape, Thalberg shook his head and, with a wry smile, said, “She looks too well able to take care of herself.”

Shearer, for her part, found herself increasingly attracted to her boss. “Something was understood between us, an indefinite feeling that neither of us could analyse.” Thalberg’s appeal was not primarily sexual.

What attracted Shearer was his commanding presence and steely grace; the impression he gave that wherever he sat was always the head of the table. In spite of his youth, Thalberg became a father figure to the 23-year-old actress.

At the end of a working day in July 1925, Shearer received a phone call from Thalberg’s secretary, asking if she would like to accompany Thalberg to the premiere of Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. That night, they made their first appearance as a couple. A few weeks later, Shearer went to Montreal to visit her father. While there, she had a reunion with an old school friend, who remembered: “At the end of lunch, over coffee, Norma leant in across the table. ‘I’m madly in love’, she whispered. ‘Who with?’ I asked. ‘With Irving Thalberg,’ she replied, smiling. I asked how Thalberg felt. ‘I hope to marry him,’ Norma said, and then, with the flash of the assurance I remembered so well, ‘I believe I will.'”

Early talkies.

One week after the marriage, The Jazz Singer was released. The first feature-length motion picture with sound, it effectively changed the cinematic landscape overnight and signaled the end of the silent motion picture era. It also spelled the end of many silent careers, and Shearer was determined hers would not be one of them. Her brother, Douglas Shearer, was instrumental in the development of sound at MGM, and every care was taken to prepare her for the microphone.

Her first talkie, The Trial of Mary Dugan (1929), turned out to be a tremendous success. Shearer’s “medium pitched, fluent, flexible Canadian accent, not quite American but not at all foreign” was critically applauded, and thereafter widely imitated by other actresses, nervous about succeeding in talkies. Despite the popularity of her subsequent early talking films, The Last of Mrs. Cheyney and Their Own Desire (both 1929), Shearer feared the public would soon tire of her “good girl” image, and took the advice of friend and co-star Ramón Novarro to visit an unknown photographer named George Hurrell. There she took a series of sensual portraits which convinced her husband that she could play the lead in MGM’s racy new film, The Divorcee (1930).

By 1927, Shearer had made a total of thirteen silent films for MGM. Each had been produced for under $200,000 and had, without fail, been a substantial box office hit, often making a $200,000+ profit for the studio.She was rewarded for this consistent success by being cast in Ernst Lubitsch’s The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg, her first prestige production, with a budget of over $1,000,000. While she was finishing The Student Prince, Shearer received a call summoning her to Thalberg’s office.

She entered to find Thalberg sitting at his desk before a tray of diamond engagement rings. He granted her the option to choose her own ring; she picked out the biggest. After weeks of rumors, provoked by wearing the ring, it was announced in August 1927 that they were to wed.

On September 29, 1927, they were married in the Hollywood wedding of the year. Shearer had two children with Thalberg, Irving Junior (1930–1988) and Katherine (1935–2006). Before they were married, Shearer converted to Judaism so that she could marry Thalberg.

Shearer won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Divorcee, and a series of highly successful pre-Code films followed, including Let Us Be Gay (1930), Strangers May Kiss (1931), A Free Soul (1931), Private Lives (1931) and Riptide (1934). All of these were box-office hits, placing Shearer in competition with Joan Crawford and Greta Garbo as MGM’s top actress through the remainder of the decade.

Shearer’s marriage to Thalberg gave her a degree of power in Hollywood that was resented by rivals such as Crawford, who complained that Shearer would always be offered the best roles and best conditions: “How can I compete with Norma when she’s sleeping with the boss.”

Shearer mixed pre-Code films with period dramas and theatrical adaptations. Smilin’ Through (1932), which co-starred Fredric March, was one of the most successful films of its year. An adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s four-hour experimental Strange Interlude (1932), which also starred Clark Gable, was critically panned but managed to turn a profit at the box office.

The Queen of MGM.

The enforcement of the Production Code in 1934 forced Shearer to drop her celebrated “free soul” image and move exclusively into period dramas and “prestige” pictures. Of these, The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) would prove her most successful at the box office, making a profit of $668,000.

In that movie, she played the part made famous by Katharine Cornell. Shearer also took on another play popularized by Cornell in Romeo and Juliet (1936) (her first film of the 30s to lose money) and Marie Antoinette (1938) (a budget of almost $2,500,000 was too great for the studio to expect a profit), though their elaborate sets and costumes helped make the films immensely popular with audiences.

Shearer was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress on six occasions, winning only for The Divorcee in 1930. She was nominated the same year for Their Own Desire, for A Free Soul in 1931, The Barretts of Wimpole Street in 1934, Romeo and Juliet in 1936, and Marie Antoinette in 1938. Marion Davies later recalled that Shearer came to a party at San Simeon in her Marie Antoinette costume, which required removing the door so she could enter, and four chairs so she could sit at the table.

In 1939, she attempted an unusual role in the dark comedy Idiot’s Delight, adapted from the 1936 Robert E. Sherwood play. It was the last of Shearer’s three films with Clark Gable, after A Free Soul (1931) and Strange Interlude (1932). The Women (1939) followed, with an entirely female cast of more than 130 speaking roles.

Shearer was also one of the many actresses considered for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind (1939). However, Shearer expressed no interest, joking, “Scarlett is a thankless role. The one I’d really like to play is Rhett (Butler)!”

Critics praised the suspenseful atmosphere in her next film, Escape (1940), where she played the lover of a Nazi general who helps an American free his mother from a concentration camp. With increasing interest in the war in Europe, the film performed well at the box office, but Shearer made errors in judgment, passing up roles in the highly successful films Now, Voyager and Mrs. Miniver, in order to star in We Were Dancing and Her Cardboard Lover (1942), which both failed at the box office. In 1942, Shearer unofficially retired from acting.

After Thalberg’s death, Shearer retained a lawyer to ensure that Thalberg’s percentages of films he had worked on were still paid to his estate, which was contested by MGM. When she took the story to gossip columnist Louella Parsons, the studio was forced to give in and granted all the profits from MGM movies made and released from 1924 to 1938, meaning the estate eventually received over $1.5 million in percentage payments.

Nevertheless, Shearer’s contract was renewed for six films at $150,000 each. During this time, she embarked on romances with the then married actor George Raft, Mickey Rooney, and James Stewart.

Raft, (who separated from his wife soon after they were married) stated publicly that he wanted to marry Shearer, with whom he had a long romance. However, his wife’s refusal to allow a divorce eventually caused Shearer to end the affair.

Following her retirement in 1942, she married Martin Arrougé (March 23, 1914 – August 8, 1999), a former ski instructor twelve years her junior.[34] Although often attending public events in her later life, Shearer withdrew from the glamor side of Hollywood and preferred anonymity, with her secretary stating in 1960: “Miss Shearer does not want any publicity.

She doesn’t talk to anyone. But I can tell you that she has refused many requests to appear in motion pictures and TV shows.” They were remained married until her death, although in her declining years she repeatedly called Arrougé “Irving”.

On June 12, 1983, Shearer died of bronchial pneumonia at the Motion Picture Country Home in Woodland Hills, California where she had been living since 1980.

She is entombed in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, in a crypt marked Norma Shearer Arrouge, along with her first husband, Irving Thalberg.

For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Shearer has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6636 Hollywood Boulevard.

Further information can be obtained at the web sites listed on the Links button above

WORKS

Norma Shearer filmography

Silent films : 1919–1928

1919 The Star Boarder Member of the Big V Beauty Squad Larry Semon Larry Semon, Lucille Carlisle, Frank Alexander Extant

1920 The Flapper uncredited Alan Crosland Olive Thomas, Warren Cook Extant
Way Down East Barn dancer D. W. Griffith Lillian Gish, Richard Barthelmess Extant
The Restless Sex uncredited Leon D’Usseau, Robert Z. Leonard Marion Davies, Ralph Kellard Extant(Library of Congress)
Torchy’s Millions uncredited Johnny Hines, Dorothy Mackaill
The Stealers Julie Martin Christy Cabanne William H. Tooker, Robert Kenyon, Myrtle Morse

1921 The Sign on the Door uncredited Herbert Brenon Norma Talmadge, Charles Richman, Lew Cody Extant

1922 The Leather Pushers uncredited Edward Laemmle Reginald Denny, Billy Sullivan Incomplete (*per silentera, this was a series or serial, with many chapters called ‘parts’ here. only parts ‘3’ and ‘4’ have made it to survival with many more presumed lost.)
The End of the World uncredited Harvey G. Matherson Jack Pickford
The Man Who Paid Jeanne Thornton Oscar Apfel Wilfred Lytell, Florence Rogan Lost
Channing of the Northwest Jess Driscoll Ralph Ince Eugene O’Brien, Gladden James Lost (per silentera.com)
The Bootleggers Helen Barnes Roy Sheldon Walter Miller, Paul Panzer, Jules Cowles, Hazel Flint Lost

1923 A Clouded Name Marjorie Dare Austin O. Huhn Gladden James, Yvonne Logan, Richard Neill Extant (per silentera.com)
Man and Wife Dora Perkins John L. McCutcheon Maurice Costello, Gladys Leslie Lost
The Devil’s Partner Jeanne Caryl S. Fleming Charles Delaney, Henry Sedley Extant (per silentera)
Pleasure Mad Elinor Benton Reginald Barker Huntley Gordon, Mary Alden
The Wanters Marjorie John M. Stahl Marie Prevost, Robert Ellis, Gertrude Astor Lost
Lucretia Lombard Mimi Winship Jack Conway Irene Rich, Monte Blue, Marc McDermott Extant

1924 The Trail of the Law Jerry Vardon Oscar Apfel Wilfred Lytell, John P. Morse Lost
The Wolf Man Elizabeth Gordon Edmund Mortimer John Gilbert, Alma Francis, Eugene Pallette Lost
Blue Water Lillian Denton David Hartford Pierre Gendron, Jane Thomas
Broadway After Dark Rose Dulane Monta Bell Adolphe Menjou, Anna Q. Nilsson, Edmund Burns, Carmel Myers Lost(per silentera.com)
Broken Barriers Grace Durland Reginald Barker James Kirkwood, Adolphe Menjou, Mae Busch Lost
Empty Hands Claire Endicott Victor Fleming Jack Holt, Charles Clary Lost
Married Flirts cameo appearance Robert G. Vignola Pauline Frederick, Conrad Nagel, Mae Busch Lost
He Who Gets Slapped Consuelo Victor Sjöström Lon Chaney, John Gilbert, Tully Marshall Extant
The Snob Nancy Claxton Monta Bell John Gilbert, Conrad Nagel, Phyllis Haver, Hedda Hopper Lost

1925 1925 Studio Tour herself short subject featuring many MGM personnel as themselves; Extant
Excuse Me Marjorie Newton Alfred J. Goulding Conrad Nagel, Renée Adorée, Walter Hiers, John Boles Lost
Lady of the Night Molly Helmer / Florence Banning Monta Bell Malcolm McGregor, Dale Fuller Extant
Waking Up the Town Mary Ellen Hope James Cruze Jack Pickford, Claire McDowell, Alec B. Francis Incomplete/Extant
Pretty Ladies Frances White Monta Bell ZaSu Pitts, Tom Moore, Ann Pennington, Lilyan Tashman Joan Crawford and Myrna Loy appear as chorus girls; Extant
A Slave of Fashion Katherine Emerson Hobart Henley Lew Cody, William Haines, Mary Carr Lost
The Tower of Lies Glory/Goldie Victor Sjöström Lon Chaney, Ian Keith, Claire McDowell, William Haines Lost
His Secretary Ruth Lawrence Hobart Henley Lew Cody, Willard Louis, Karl Dane Lost

1926 The Devil’s Circus Mary Benjamin Christensen Charles Emmett-Mack, Carmel Myers, John Milian, Claire McDowell Extant
Screen Snapshots herself Charlie Chaplin, Billie Dove, Leatrice Joy, Elinor Glyn, Paul Bern, William S. Hart, Tom Mix short promotional film featuring notable performers as themselves
The Waning Sex Nina Duane Robert Z. Leonard Conrad Nagel, George K. Arthur, Mary McAllister Lost
Upstage Dolly Haven Monta Bell Oscar Shaw, Tenen Holz, Gwen Lee Extant

1927 The Demi-Bride Criquette Robert Z. Leonard Lew Cody, Lionel Belmore, Tenen Holz, Carmel Myers, Dorothy Sebastian Lost
After Midnight Mary Miller Monta Bell Lawrence Gray, Gwen Lee, Eddie Sturgis Extant
The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg Kathi Ernst Lubistch Ramón Novarro, Jean Hersholt, Philippe De Lacy Extant

1928 The Latest from Paris Ann Dolan Sam Wood George Sydney, Ralph Forbes, Tenen Holz Lost (per Arne Andersin’s Lost Film Files)
The Actress Rose Trelawny Sidney Franklin Owen Moore, Gwen Lee, Lee Moran, Ralph Forbes Lost
Voices Across the Sea herself Ernest Torrence, John Gilbert, Joan Crawford short subject(one reel) with the actors appearing as themselves
A Lady of Chance Angel Face Crandall Robert Z. Leonard Lowell Sherman, Gwen Lee, Johnny Mack Brown, Eugenie Besserer Extant

Sound films : 1929–1942

1929 The Trial of Mary Dugan Mary Dugan Bayard Veiller Lewis Stone, H. B. Warner, Raymond Hackett, Lilyan Tashman
The Last of Mrs. Cheyney Fay Cheyney Sidney Franklin Basil Rathbone, George Barraud, Herbert Bunston, Hedda Hopper
The Hollywood Revue of 1929 herself as Juliet Charles Reisner Conrad Nagel, Jack Benny, John Gilbert, Marion Davies, Joan Crawford, William Haines, Buster Keaton, Bessie Love, Marie Dressler “Romeo and Juliet” sequence with Shearer and Gilbert shot in two-color Technicolor
Their Own Desire Lucia “Lally” Marlett E. Mason Hopper Belle Bennett, Lewis Stone, Robert Montgomery, Helene Millard, Cecil Cunningham nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress
(nominated for two films, Shearer won for The Divorcee)

1930 The Divorcee Jerry Bernard Martin Robert Z. Leonard Chester Morris, Conrad Nagel, Robert Montgomery, Florence Eldridge won Academy Award for Best Actress
Let Us Be Gay Mrs. Katherine Brown Robert Z. Leonard Marie Dressler, Rod La Rocque, Gilbert Emery, Hedda Hopper, Raymond Hackett, Sally Eilers

1931 Jackie Cooper’s Birthday Party herself Charles Reisner Jackie Cooper, Lionel Barrymore, Matthew ‘Stymie’ Beard, Wallace Beery, Marion Davies, Marie Dressler, Jimmy Durante, Clark Gable, Charlotte Greenwood, Harpo Marx, Ramón Novarro, Anita Page short subject
Strangers May Kiss Lisbeth Corbin George Fitzmaurice Robert Montgomery, Neil Hamilton, Marjorie Rambeau, Irene Rich
The Stolen Jools herself William C. McGann Wallace Beery, Buster Keaton, Edward G. Robinson short subject
A Free Soul Jan Ashe Clarence Brown Leslie Howard, Lionel Barrymore, James Gleason, Clark Gable nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress
(won by Marie Dressler for Min and Bill)
Private Lives Amanda Sidney Franklin Robert Montgomery, Reginald Denny, Una Merkel, Jean Hersholt
The Christmas Party herself Charles Reisner Jerry Madden, Jackie Cooper, Reginald Denny, Clark Gable, Charlotte Greenwood, Cliff Edwards, Ramón Novarro, Marion Davies, Anita Page short subject

1932 Smilin’ Through Kathleen Sidney Franklin Fredric March, Leslie Howard, O. P. Heggie
Strange Interlude Nina Leeds Robert Z. Leonard Clark Gable, Alexander Kirkland, Ralph Morgan, Robert Young, May Robson, Maureen O’Sullivan

1934 Riptide Lady Mary Rexford Edmund Goulding Robert Montgomery, Herbert Marshall, Lilyan Tashman
The Barretts of Wimpole Street Elizabeth Barrett Browning Sidney Franklin Fredric March, Charles Laughton, Maureen O’Sullivan nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress
(won by Claudette Colbert for It Happened One Night)

1936 Romeo and Juliet Juliet George Cukor Leslie Howard, John Barrymore, Edna May Oliver, Basil Rathbone, C. Aubrey Smith nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress
(won by Luise Rainer for The Great Ziegfeld)

1938 Marie Antoinette Marie Antoinette W. S. Van Dyke Tyrone Power, John Barrymore, Robert Morley, Anita Louise, Gladys George, Joseph Schildkraut, Henry Stephenson nominated for Academy Award for Best Actress
(won by Bette Davis in Jezebel)
winner of Best Actress Award at Venice Film Festival
Hollywood Goes to Town herself Herman Hoffman short subject, featuring film performers as themselves

1939 Idiot’s Delight Irene Fellara Clarence Brown Clark Gable, Edward Arnold, Charles Coburn, Joseph Schildkraut, Burgess Meredith, Laura Hope Crews
The Women Mrs. Stephen Haines (Mary) George Cukor Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Mary Boland, Paulette Goddard, Phyllis Povah, Joan Fontaine, Virginia Weidler, Lucile Watson, Marjorie Main, Virginia Grey, Ruth Hussey notable for its all-female cast

1940 Escape Countess Ruby von Treck Mervyn LeRoy Robert Taylor, Conrad Veidt, Alla Nazimova

1942 We Were Dancing Victoria Anastasia ‘Vicki’ Wilomirska Robert Z. Leonard Melvyn Douglas, Gail Patrick, Lee Bowman, Marjorie Main
Her Cardboard Lover Consuelo Croyden George Cukor Robert Taylor, George Sanders