On today’s date in 1939, George Cukor’s The Women—starring Montréal actor Norma Shearer—premiered in Hollywood, Calif.
Adapted from the famed 1936 Clare Boothe play of the same name, the film also starred Joan Crawford, Rosalind Russell, Joan Fontaine, Paulette Goddard and Mary Boland.
In 2008, as part of its second set of stamps in the Canadians in Hollywood series, Canada Post honoured Shearer (Scott #2279a, #2280c) alongside three other Canadians who found fame in Hollywood—Marie Dressler (SC #2279c, #2280a), Chief Dan George (SC #2279b, #2280b) and Raymond Burr (SC #2279d, #2280d). Printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company on Spicers paper using five-colour lithography plus varnish, each of these 52-cent stamps has general tagging along each side.
ART DECO SCENE
Designed by John Belisle and Kosta Tsetsekas of Vancouver’s Signals Design, the stamps use images created by Neal Armstrong, the artist who painted the images for the first set of stamps. The Shearer stamp features an art deco scene that is reminiscent of many of her films.
“Neal has done a great job of capturing the essence of each actor and creating a sense that this is a sequel,” said Belisle. “We also wanted to connect the audience to these stamps, so we used illustrator Adam Rogers to craft the souvenir sheet and official first day cover. Adam created a vintage feel that gives a real impression of being in a theatre watching a movie. The crowd is at the front, and the stamps sit right on the screen.”
In keeping with the desire to bring the audience into the design, the cancels depict a bag of popcorn and a soft drink with a straw.
“The cancels connect the audience to the silver screen and help to create a real movie experience,” added Belisle.
Born in Montréal’s upper-middle class Westmount neighbourhood, Shearer’s lifestyle changed significantly during the Great Depression, when she was taken along with her sister to New York City in hopes of earning money acting.
Shearer took whatever small parts came her way before eventually landing a role in the 1920 movie The Stealers. The film brought her to the attention of MGM General Manager Irving Thalberg, who tracked her down and gave her a role in The Wanters (1923).
Shearer died on June 12, 1983 in Woodland Hills, L.A. She was 80 years old.