Norma Talmadge (May 2, 1894 – December 24, 1957) was an American actress and film producer of the silent era. A major box office draw for more than a decade, her career reached a peak in the early 1920s, when she ranked among the most popular idols of the American screen.
Her most famous film was Smilin’ Through (1922), but she also scored artistic triumphs teamed with director Frank Borzage in Secrets (1924) and The Lady (1925). Her younger sisters Constance Talmadge and Natalie Talmadge were also movie stars. Talmadge married millionaire and film producer Joseph Schenck and they successfully created their own production company. After reaching fame in the film studios on the East Coast, she moved to Hollywood in 1922.
The Talmadge Sisters in life.
A specialist in melodrama, Talmadge was one of the most elegant and glamorous film stars of the roaring twenties. By the end of the silent film period her popularity with audiences had waned. After her two talkies proved disappointing at the box office, she retired a very wealthy woman. Of all the silent stars whose reputation collapsed with the coming of sound, Norma Talmadge was the most important. She is little remembered, since her films are seldom revived today, yet in her day she was hugely popular and the epitome of stardom.
In her later years, Talmadge, who had never been comfortable with the burdens of public celebrity, became reclusive. Increasingly crippled by painful arthritis and reportedly to be dependent on painkilling drugs, she moved to the warm climate of Las Vegas, Nevada for her final years. In 1956, she was voted by her peers as one of the top five female stars of the pre-1925 era, but was too ill to travel to Rochester, New York to accept her award.
After suffering a series of strokes in 1957, Talmadge died of pneumonia on Christmas Eve of that year. At the time of her death, her estate was valued at more than USD$1,000,000. For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Norma Talmadge has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street. She is entombed at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
The Talmadge Sisters in death.