Douglas Shearer

Douglas G. Shearer (November 17, 1899 - January 5, 1971) was a sound designer and director. He was born in Montreal, Quebec to a prominent upper class family, but his family fell on hard times after his father’s business failed and ultimately it led to his parents separating. Douglas remained with his father in Montreal while his two younger sisters, Norma and Athole moved to New York City with their mother.

Unable to afford university, Douglas Shearer left school, working at a variety of jobs until he visited his sisters who by then had relocated to Hollywood, California in the early 1920s. Deciding to remain there, he found a job at MGM Studios and began to pursue his interest in the creation of sound in film. This interest lead to a forty year association with the film business in which he was a significant innovator in the development and perfecting of sound technology in motion pictures. One of his many contributions included the development of a sophisticated recording system that eliminated unwanted background noise during sound recording. For his work in sound in film, he won several Academy Awards and was given several special awards by the Academy in recognition of technical innovations.

In 1955, Douglas Shearer was appointed MGM’s director of technical research and by the time he retired in 1968, he had won several Academy Awards and Academy citations for scientific and technological advances within the movie industry. In total he was nominated for 20 Oscars.

Douglas Shearer died in Culver City, California. Some of the citations he earned over his illustrious career were:

Academy Award for Sound:

Academy Award for Special Effects:
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo - (1944)
  • Green Dolphin Street - (1947)

See also: Other Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood

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