Norma had a great love for animals and hated to see them mistreated. One day, when she was still a girl, she encountered a group of boys torturing a squirrel that they had cornered in a maple tree on the Humber River bank where Norma would spend much time relaxing.
The first thing she knew, they had tied a rope around the helpless creature and began to drag it down the road. Tearfully, Norma pleaded with the young tormentors to free the animal, but they merely laughed at her. Norma could not contain herself any longer and before she realized what she was doing she lunged at the little rascals and pounded them with her fists. The boys were stunned at this sudden attack from a girl and they quickly released the squirrel and fled. This apparently, was an early sampling of the grit she was to display, in her quest for theatrical jobs some years later.
Jack Jacobs & Myron Braum, The Films of Norma Shearer