Norma Talmadge

Norma Talmadge

Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey, USA
Death 24 Dec 1957 (aged 62)
Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada, USA
Burial Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Abbey of the Psalms, Shrine of Eternal Love, Talmadge room, corridor G-7
Memorial ID 1015 · View Source
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Actress. Norma Talmadge is remembered as one of the top box office attractions for over a decade during the American silent movie era. She was the daughter of legendary Hollywood mother, Peg Talmadge and her father, Fred, an unemployed advertising agent and an alcoholic, who abandoned Norma and her two sisters, Natalie and Constance, on a Christmas Day after April of 1910. To support the family, her mother did other people's laundry, sold makeup door-to-door and taught painting classes. By the time Norma was fourteen, she was interested in modeling. Her mother saw this as an opportunity for Norma to enter motion pictures. Traveling to Vitagraph Studios in Flatbush, New York, they managed to sneak past the studio gates to see a casting director, who rejected them. Norma and her mother continued to haunt Vitagraph with telephone calls, and in 1910 Norma was offered a few small parts in films. Between 1911 and 1912, Norma played bits in over 100 films at $25 a week. Her first contract film was “Neighboring Kingdoms,” but it was the 1911 prominent part in the three-reel special called, “A Tale of Two Cities,” which brought public attention to her. As she continued to play a variety of characters she began attracting more public and critical notice. In 1913 she was voted Vitagraph's most promising young actress and was ranked 42nd in “Photoplay Magazine's” popularity poll. Her mother saw that she could manage Norma's career further, hence Norma received a contract with National Pictures Company for 8 feature movies for $400 a week. Her last film for Vitagraph was “The Crown Prince's Double” in the summer of 1915. In the five years she had been with Vitagraph, she had roles in over 250 films. Debuting July 10, 1915 “Captivating Mary Carstairs” was Norma's first Hollywood film, with National Pictures. During the filming, everything was a fiasco, as the set and costumes were cheap, the studio itself lacked sufficient backing; and after the movie's release, the company went bankrupt: the movie was a flop and the film was later lost. In 1916, Norma received a contract with D.W. Griffith's Fine Arts Company. For eight months, she starred in seven feature movies. When the contract finished, the Talmadges returned to New York. On October 20, 1916 she married self-made millionaire Joseph M. Scheneck, who had her starring in his movie “Panthea.” This successful film was lost in the 1950s. In 1920, they moved their Norma Talmadege Film Corporation to California, which became one of the most lucrative partnerships in the film history. During the 1920's, she continued to triumph in films such as “The Passion Flower” and “Smilin Through.” She had evolved from a cute teenager into a beautiful dark-hair lady with big brown eyes and her acting skills had improved. In 1921 “Movie Picture World” poll, Norma and her sister Constance were voted the first and second most popular movie actresses in the United States along with having a huge foreign fan base. By the time she made “Camille” in 1927, her popularity had began to fade. During the filming of “Camille”, she fell in love with the handsome, 11-years-her-junior co-star Gilbert Roland and began divorce proceedings with plans to marry him. She never married Roland, but separated from her husband who was still managing her career. Her career continued to decline with “talkie” movies; she made two of these movies with neither becoming successful. Her voice was unsuited to the sophisticated roles that she had played her entire career. In 1934 after being separated for seven years, she finally divorced Schenck; nine days later, she married George Jessel, and five years later, she divorced him. She was one of the wealthiest women in Hollywood. As a complication from her painful crippling arthritis, it is reported that she fell into narcotic drug addiction. In 1946 Norma married Dr. Carvel James, a Hollywood physician, who made her last years as comfortable as possible. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street. Talmadge Street in Los Angeles is named for the sisters. The last 10 years of her life she resided in Las Vegas, Nevada. She died of pneumonia.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1015
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Norma Talmadge (26 May 1895–24 Dec 1957), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1015, citing Hollywood Forever, Hollywood, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .