LA Times, Sept. 15, 1936
Irving Thalberg’s habit of jotting down ideas in his notebook led to his romance and eventual marriage with Norma Shearer.
Theirs provided to be one of Hollywood’s happiest unions from which came a son, Irving Jr., 6, to perpetuate his name and a daughter Katherine, 1.
Chance Joined Them
The story of their romance was vividly recalled yesterday on Thalberg’s sudden death at his home in Santa Monica.
As a young and advancing executive at Universal, this shy, boyish young man happened to catch a preview of a picture called, “Channing of the Northwest,” It was made at one of the New York Studios.
The striking personality of the leading lady prompted him to find out her name and he wrote down Norma Shearer in his notebook as a likely prospect for better things.
At the time Miss Shearer was making a comfortable living in the East working in films, posing for advertisements and modeling. So when she received an offer to come to Hollywood she turned it down because it wasn’t attractive enough. Later, when Thalberg was associated with Hal Roach, he sent her an offer. This she also rejected.
But the third one was more tempting and was made by Thalberg after he joined forces with Louis B. Mayer who was producing independently on Mission Road. She accepted this contract, containing a four-week guarantee, with a beginning salary of $150 per week with increases over a five year period.
Surprise At Meeting
A total stranger to Los Angeles, Miss Shearer arrived her with her mother. She went immediately to the studio where she entered the main office and asked a young mand to be directed to Mr. Thalberg.
“I am Mr. Thalberg,” he replied.
Amazed by his youth and boyishness she completely forgot her rehearsed greeting. In the months that followed Miss Shearer went through the regular studio grind that all new players experience. Their relations up to this time were strictly business. She saw him at social functions with other girls. He saw her escorted by other young men.
Their First Date
Then came a night for a big premiere. Thalberg wanted Miss Shearer to accompany him. He didn’t have the nerve to ask her himself. He had his secretary, Vivian Newcomb, call her on the telephone.
She wondered why he didn’t ask for himself but found out when she went out with I’m that he was shy. Then too, she realized that she was in love with him from the first time she met. She recalled she told her mother he was a man she would like to marry, after their first meeting.
Proposed at Grove
It was at the Cocoanut Grove that he proposed. They were sitting at a table.
“When shall we be married?” he asked her. That was all there was to the proposal.
The next day she was summoned to his office at the studio. He showed her a tray of diamonds and rings, from which she selected her engagement ring. The wedding was beautiful but simple. It took place in the garden of the home in Beverly Hills where he lived with his parents in 1928. They slipped away for a few days to Del Monte after the ceremony, later taking a honeymoon to Europe.
Forgot work at Home
Rarely during their marriage did they discuss business at home. Away from the studio she entirely forgot her work and devoted herself to her home and family.