Edith Norma Shearer was a Canadian 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, she played sexually liberated women in sophisticated contemporary comedies. Later she appeared in historical and period films.
Unlike many of her Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 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] womanhood... exploring love and sex with an honesty that would be considered frank by modern standards".