Norma and Irving : the steel butterfly and the boy wonder
At the height of her career, Norma Shearer was the Queen of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the First Lady of the silver screen. She starred in sixty films in twenty-three years, beginning her career as an extra in 1919 before dominating the box office in the 1930s and retiring in 1942. Shearer's husband was the ''Boy Wonder” producer, Irving Thalberg, the man responsible for overseeing many of the studio's greatest successes, although he preferred to remain uncredited for his work. When Shearer and Thalberg married in September 1927, they became Hollywood's golden couple. Throughout their nine-year marriage, rumors circulated that Shearer married Thalberg for the sake of her career, while Thalberg was accused of unfairly casting Shearer in key film roles for which other stars may have been better suited. In interviews that appeared in screen magazines, Shearer denied the validity of this gossip, and sources close to the couple often reported their marriage was full of love and happiness. Although Thalberg did not publicly deny any rumors, he assured bis colleagues that his casting choices did not result from favoritism. Shearer and Thalberg had great influence and power within the film industry, but studio executives felt they both held too much power-especially Thalberg. Using archival research from Los Angeles, California, and information collected from within the state of Florida, this thesis explores the rumors that circulated about Norma Shearer and Irving Thalberg and the couple's methods to reveal the truth. It provides the personal histories of both artists and an examination of the circumstances surrounding one of early Hollywood's most powerful couples. It was their success that brought about the rumors and the attempts to undermine their marriage.
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Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Length of Campus-only Access
Honors in the Major Thesis
Elsea, Katherine Renee, "Norma and Irving : the steel butterfly and the boy wonder" (2010). HIM 1990-2015. 995.