Norma Shearer's MGM contract stipulated that she would not share star billing with any other actress. When George Cukor's The Women went into production in the spring of 1939, Norma's co-star Joan Crawford, however, demanded to be billed above the title alongside Norma. (After being labelled box-office poison the year before, Joan had lobbied hard to be cast as the bitchy Crystal Allen and wouldn't settle for less than co-star billing.) It was MGM boss Louis B. Mayer who eventually asked Norma to chuck the clause in her contract and to give Joan what she wanted. Norma at first objected but under pressure gave in, signing the following amendment on 3 May 1939.
|Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford photographed in 1932|
I now agree that both Miss Joan Crawford and Miss Rosalind Russell may be given co-star credit with my name; provided, however, that in no event shall Miss Russell’s name appear in size of type larger than 50% of the size used to display my name.
|The three actresses credited on screen for The Women with Rosalind's name half the size of her co-stars.|
|Publicity still for The Women with Joan, Norma and Rosalind. A critical and commercial success, the film was Joan's comeback and turned Rosalind into a big star. For Norma it was one of her last films before she retired from acting in 1942.|