Monday, March 30, 2009

Young Norma and Her Long, Beautiful Curls

Norma Shearer was known for her short hair and striking profile. A photograph of her would have likely shown Norma wearing her characteristic helmet of curls that would crown her temples. It was a look that the Queen of MGM carried with her throughout her talking picture career, only deviating for films such as Marie Antoinette and Idiot's Delight which required her to wear wigs.

However, a younger Norma in the silent era had a much different look. Norma had long flowing curls. They were frizzy, bountiful and glorious. She usually wore them up, tied in the back yet ocassionally she would let them loose and they would flow down her neck and shoulders.

Photographs of Norma in her twenties showed that she carried those curls in many different ways. Her hair was of various lengths and styles and it always looked different. I haven't been able to find much information about Norma Shearer's hairstyle which doesn't surprise me. I may be the only one to whom this matters and I doubt biographers Gavin Lambert and Lawrence Quirk ever cared about such triviality.

In the same way I obsess with Bette Davis' blonde look, I simply adore the long curly locks of Norma Shearer. Why? Because I secretly have long curly hair too. I say "secretly" because I wear mine straight, wavy or in ironed curls. I'd like to think Norma Shearer's hair was naturally curly like mine. We both found ways to tame of our locks to flatter our appearance, but hidden beneath the surface were wild curls just waiting to spring into their natural state.

(Pictures of Norma from Divas: The Site)


  1. Great! Great! This is so wonderful to read about, these "trivialities" that you call it. I adore the last sepia coloured picture of Norma! Keep up the good work, girl!

  2. A great post, Raquel. I never really thought about it, but I think Norma did look better with her hair long and in curls. Of course, she would be beautiful regardless!

  3. I love the fuzzy hair of the silent-era stars. The styles look unkept but styled at the same time. Love the sepia colored Norma! And your hair is gorgeous. My hair is completely flat with thismuch volume, so I would love to have some texture like you!

  4. Yay for a post about hair! Quite a wonderful one, too! I think we don't talk enough about classic film stars and their hair. I adored all of Norma's styles. She was so gorgeous she could wear it any way she liked - except for the style from The Women. I think she really got cheated on hair for that film. Everybody did, actually.

    Hey- I saw your Norma post on Fox and the Chicago Sun Times. Good for you! You're an established columnist, now! Just curious - did you ask them to feature it?

  5. Lolita - Thanks!

    Mercurie - Yes Norma was a beauty. She very rarely looked bad.

    Sarah - I guess both flat and curly hair are curses. We all want we can't have. What I wouldn't give to be able to not have to blow-dry mine!

    Casey - The Women (1939) and on, Norma had what I like to refer to as "helmet hair". Her hair style was so rigid and defined. In We Were Dancing she brushes it and it doesn't even move an inch!

  6. As someone who also has hard-to-tame curls, I think this is far from a "trivial" matter. ;) Great post.


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