Athole Shearer

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Athole Shearer
Athole Shearer.jpg
Born(1900-11-20)November 20, 1900
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DiedMarch 17, 1985(1985-03-17) (aged 84)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Glendale, California
Years active1920
John Ward
(m. 1923; div. 1928)

Howard Hawks
(m. 1928; div. 1940)
RelativesAndrew Shearer (father)
Norma Shearer (sister)
Douglas Shearer (brother)
Cresswell Shearer (uncle)

Athole Shearer Hawks (November 20, 1900 – March 17, 1985) was a Canadian American actress, who was the sister of motion picture star Norma Shearer and MGM film sound engineer Douglas Shearer.


Athole Dane Shearer was born in 1900 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. After her parents divorced there when she was a teenager, her brother Douglas remained with their father Andrew, while she and her sister Norma moved to New York City with their mother Edith, who hoped to get her daughters into show business.[1] In 1920 the girls appeared as extras and in bit parts in productions filmed on location in New York, New Jersey, and Florida; but soon Edith relocated with them to California with the intention of securing contracts with one of the fast-growing studios in Hollywood.[1][2] Athole's appearances in East Coast productions consisted of only small uncredited roles in three films, the first being as a schoolgirl in The Flapper, a silent comedy released by Selznick Pictures Corporation.[3][4] Unfortunately, in California her acting career essentially ended, never evolving there and achieving the remarkable success experienced by Norma at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Athole's work in motion pictures was instead very brief and very limited due to persistent medical issues, most notably her long struggle with bipolar disorder, a disorder her father also most likely suffered from (Norma Shearer described how their father used to move like a "ghost like presence" around the house).[5] Her condition and personal problems associated with the illness proved to be detrimental to her film career. Ultimately, Athole was required to spend many years in mental institutions until her disorder was properly diagnosed.

Personal life and death[edit]

In 1923, Shearer married John Ward, with whom she had a son, Peter.[6] The couple divorced in 1928; and on May 30 that year she married again, then to noted film director Howard Hawks, with whom she had two more children: David, born in 1929, and Barbara, born in 1935.[6] She and Hawks divorced in 1940, reportedly due to Hawks' affair with New York and Hollywood socialite Nancy "Slim" Gross, whom he would later marry.

Athole Shearer died in 1985 in Los Angeles, California, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Katz, Ephraim (2001). The Film Encyclopedia, fourth edition revised by Fred Klein and Ronald Dean Nolan. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001, p. 1247. ISBN 0-06-273755-4.
  2. ^ "Douglas Shearer", biographical profile, Turner Classic Movies (TCM), Turner Broadcasting System, a subsidiary of Time Warner, Inc. New York, N.Y. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
  3. ^ "The Flapper (1920)", catalog, the American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles, California. Retrieved August 25, 2018.
  4. ^ "The Flapper (1920)", Internet Movie Database (IMDb), a subsidiary of Amazon, Seattle, Washington. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  5. ^ Norma Shearer: A Life. Lambert, Gavin. 1990. Alfred A. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (New York) (978-0-394-55158-6).
  6. ^ a b "Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940", Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, April 1940; digital image of federal census page listing the family of "Howard W. Hawkes", identified as a director of motion pictures. FamilySearch, archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved August 25, 2018. In the cited census, Barbara "Hawkes" is documented to be 5-years-old at the time; David, 11-years-old; and Peter, 15-years old.

External links[edit]