Norma Talmadge

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Norma James (Talmadge)

Also Known As: "Jessell", "Scheincker", "James"
Birthdate: (63)
Birthplace: Jersey City, NJ, USA
Death: December 24, 1957 (63)
Las Vegas, NV, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Frederick J. Talmadge and Margaret L Talmadge
Wife of Dr. Carvel James
Ex-wife of George Albert Jessel and Joseph Michael Schenck
Sister of Natalie Talmadge and Constance Alice Talmadge

Occupation: Actress
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Norma Talmadge

A major box office draw during the silent film era for more than a decade, Norma Talmadge earned the title 'The Lady of the Great Indoors' for her weepy society melodramas. She is best remembered for her role in Smilin’ Through (1922), but she also scored artistic triumphs teamed with director Frank Borzage in Secrets (1924) and The Lady (1925). For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Talmadge has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1500 Vine Street.

She was born on May 2, 1894 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the eldest daughter of Fred Talmadge, a chronic unemployed alcoholic, and Margaret "Peg" Talmadge, a witty and indomitable woman. Talmadge's childhood was marked by poverty. One Christmas morning Fred Talmadge left the house to buy food and never came back, leaving his wife to raise their three little daughters. Peg took in laundry, sold cosmetics, taught painting classes, and rented out rooms.

The Brooklyn-raised Talmadge began acting at the neighborhood Vitagraph studios in the early 1910s, making impressions as the doomed seamstress in "A Tale of Two Cities" (1911) and in her first starring role, "The Battle Cry of Peace" (1915). A dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty with a classical profile, Talmadge was making a series of dramas for Triangle/Fine Arts when she wed producer Joseph Schenck in 1917.

The Schencks formed The Norma Talmadge Film Company, releasing films through First National and made scores of features through the 20s. Talmadge's salary and popularity rose year by year with such hits as "Smilin' Through" (1922), "Within the Law" (1923), "Secrets" (1924), "Kiki" (one of her biggest successes, 1926), "Camille" (1927), "The Dove" (1928) and scores of others. In 1927, Talmadge became the third star (after Pickford and Fairbanks) to immortalize her footprints in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater.

Her career pretty much ended with the silent era. Talmadge retired after two unsuccessful talkies ("New York Nights" and "DuBarry, Woman of Passion", both 1930). She left Schenck in 1934 for vaudeville star George Jessel, then settled down, wealthy and happy, with a third husband in Las Vegas. After suffering from arthritis and several strokes, she died there in 1957, largely forgotten by the public.


Norma Talmadge (May 26, 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.

A specialist in melodrama, 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 sister Constance Talmadge was also a movie star. Talmadge married millionaire 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.

Talmadge was one of the most elegant and glamorous film stars of the roaring twenties. However, by the end of the silent film era, her popularity with audiences had waned. After her two talkies proved disappointing at the box office, she retired a very wealthy woman. She is little remembered, yet in her day she was hugely popular and the epitome of stardom.

Partial filmography

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Norma Talmadge's Timeline

May 2, 1894
Jersey City, NJ, USA
December 24, 1957
Age 63
Las Vegas, NV, USA