Gloria Swanson. Actress. She was one of the most prominent stars during the silent film era as both an actress and a fashion icon. She was nominated for the very first Academy Award for Best Actress. She also produced her own films, such as the controversial Sadie Thompson and The Love of Sunya. In 1929, Swanson successfully transitioned to talkies with The Trespasser. Today she is best known for her role as Norma Desmond, in the critically acclaimed film film Sunset Boulevard (1950).