Norman Kerry (June 16, 1894 - January 12, 1956) was an American actor whose career spanned over twenty-five years in the motion picture industry beginning in the silent era at the end of World War I.
Born Arnold Kaiser in Rochester, New York of German parentage, he changed his decidedly German name to 'Norman Kerry' at the onset of World War I.
Around 1916 he befriended Rudolph Valentino, then an exhibition dancer of some reknown, in New York City. He is said to have introduced Valentino to dancer Bonnie Glass who became Valentino's partner; Valentino in turn encouraged Kerry to try making a name for himself in film. (Later, Kerry would help out Valentino financially when the two met again in California.) Kerry made his first film appearance in the 1916 Allan Dwan directed comedy Manhattan Madness, starring Douglas Fairbanks. He would rise to leading actor status the following year in the Marshall Neilan directed A Little Princess, playing opposite actress Mary Pickford. In 1918, Kerry followed his success with A Little Princess in the William Desmond Taylor directed Up the Road with Sallie, opposite Constance Talmadge.
Kerry's career flourished during the silent film era of the late 1910s and throughout the 1920s and he quickly became a matinee idol who was extremely popular with female fans. With his slicked back hair and thin, waxed moustache, he was often cast in the role of the heroic dashing swashbuckler or the exotic, seductive lothario. By 1923, Kerry was a very well respected leading man and box-office draw. That year he starred in two much talked about films: the enormous box-office hit The Hunchback of Notre Dame, opposite Lon Chaney and the controversial Merry-Go-Round opposite newcomer Mary Philbin. Kerry was cast in Merry-Go-Round by the famous German director Erich von Stroheim to play von Stroheim's alter-ego 'Count Franz Maximilian Von Hohenegg', but studio executive Irving Thalberg fired von Stroheim during filming and had to be replaced by director Rupert Julian. Although controversial at the time, the film is now considered a classic.
Kerry would again be paired with Lon Chaney and Mary Philbin in the 1925 horror classic The Phantom of the Opera, playing Philbin's love-interest, the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny. The film was an enormous financial and critical success and solidified Kerry's position as a leading actor during the 1920s. That same year Kerry would again star opposite Philbin, in the adventure film Lorraine of the Lions, although the film didn't achieve nearly the degree of success as The Phantom of the Opera. In 1927 Kerry would again share the screen with Lon Chaney, Sr. in the Tod Browning directed horror film The Unknown with Joan Crawford. Kerry would spend the decade appearing in high-profile roles opposite such famous actresses of the era as: Anna Q. Nilsson, Marion Davies, Bebe Daniels, Mildred Harris, ZaSu Pitts, Joan Crawford, Lillian Gish and Claire Windsor.
At the beginning of the talkie era, Norman Kerry was cast in the 1931 film Bachelor Apartment, opposite silent the film star Mae Murray. The film was critically panned at the time of release and both Murray and Kerry's careers in the new medium of sound quickly waned. Kerry would only make three more film appearances before retiring from acting.
Later in life Kerry joined the French Foreign Legion, returning to the U.S. only when France was invaded by Nazi Germany.
Norman Kerry died in Los Angeles, California at the age of 61 in 1956 and was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, Los Angeles County, California.
For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Norman Kerry was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6724 Hollywood Blvd., in Hollywood, California.