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Douglas Shearer

Douglas Shearer

Canadian sound designer and recording director
Douglas Shearer
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Canadian sound designer and recording director
A.K.A. Douglas G. Shearer
Was Artist Audio engineer Engineer
From United States of America Canada
Type Arts Engineering Music
Gender male
Birth 17 November 1899, Westmount, Urban agglomeration of Montreal, Montreal Region, Canada
Death 5 January 1971, Culver City, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 71 years)
Star sign Scorpio
Mother: Edith Fisher
Father: Andrew Shearer
Siblings: Norma ShearerAthole Shearer
Spouse: Ann Lee Cunningham (1932-)Avice Curry (1970-)
Children: Stephen ShearerMark Shearer
Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing  
Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing  
Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing  
Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing  
Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing  
Academy Award for Best Special Effects  
Academy Award for Best Special Effects  
Canada's Walk of Fame 2008
The details


Douglas Graham Shearer (November 17, 1899 – January 5, 1971) was a Canadian American pioneering sound designer and recording director who played a key role in the advancement of sound technology for motion pictures. He won seven Academy Awards for his work. In 2008, he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

Early life and career

Shearer was born in Westmount, Quebec to a prominent upper-class family, but his family fell on hard times after his father's business failed, which ultimately led to his parents' separation. Douglas remained with his father Andrew Shearer in Montreal while his two younger sisters, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer star Norma Shearerand Athole Shearer, moved to New York City with their mother with their mother, Edith.

Unable to afford university, Douglas Shearer left school, working at a variety of jobs. In 1924, he visited his sisters in Hollywood, California, who had relocated there in the early 1920s. He decided to remain there, and found a job at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where his sister Norma was under contract. At MGM, he pursued an interest in adding sound to film. This interest led to a forty-year career in films. He was a significant innovator in motion picture sound technology. One of his many contributions was a recording system that eliminated unwanted background noise. Over his long career, Shearer was nominated for an Academy Award a total of twenty-one times, winning seven times for Sound and Special Effects. He is credited as Recording Director at MGM on most films produced between 1930 and 1953. In 1955, he was appointed MGM's director of technical research. By the time he retired in 1968 he had won an additional seven Scientific or Technical Academy Awards.

In summing up his career, The Film Encyclopedia by Ephraim Katz (2001) states that "during his more than 40 years with MGM he contributed more than any other man in Hollywood to the perfection of motion picture sound."

Personal life

Shearer married Marion B. Tilden in Montreal on September 1922; she died on 6 June 1931. He later married Ann Cunningham; they had two sons, Mark and Stephen. After Ann's death, he married a woman named Avice Curry.


Shearer died in Culver City, California, in 1971.

Awards and nominations

Scientific and Technical Academy Award

  • 7 wins

Academy Award for Sound (Wins):

  • The Big House (1930)
  • Naughty Marietta (1935)
  • San Francisco (1936)
  • Strike Up the Band (1940)
  • The Great Caruso (1951)

Academy Award for Best Visual Effects (Wins):

  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)
  • Green Dolphin Street (1947)

Academy Award for Sound (Nominations):

  • Viva Villa! (1934)
  • Maytime (1937)
  • Sweethearts (1938)
  • Balalaika (1939)
  • The Chocolate Soldier (1941)
  • Mrs. Miniver (1942)
  • Madame Curie (1943)
  • Kismet (1944)
  • They Were Expendable (1945)
  • Green Dolphin Street (1947)

Academy Award for Best Special Effects (Nominations):

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939)
  • Boom Town (1940)
  • Flight Command (1941)
  • Mrs. Miniver (1942)
To cite the article
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Article Title: Douglas Shearer: Canadian sound designer and recording director - Biography and Life
Author(s): PeoplePill.com Editorial Staff
Website Title: PeoplePill
Publisher: PeoplePill
Article URL: https://peoplepill.com/people/douglas-shearer/
Publish Date: 28 Dec 2016
Date Accessed: 27 Oct 2020
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