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Stephen Michael Shearer was born in Illinois.  At the age of 10 he began reading adult film biographies and at age 11 wrote his first screenplay "Hellen and Ellen in the Wilderness." As a child he appeared on local radio and performed in numerous grammar and high school plays to overcome innate shyness.

As a teenager, Stephen was co-editor of his high school newspaper, penning numerous columns. To put himself through college, for a Joplin CBS-affiliate he was film director, public service coordinator, and host of an afternoon TV show "The Movies." He was awarded a three-year honorary scholarship from Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri.  At university he majored in music performing proficiently on string bass, cello, concert tuba, French horn, baritone, piano, and percussion (his declared major was voice), and he minored in psychology.  He was drum major for the marching band and a member of Kappa Kappa Psi.  After graduation he did post-graduate studies in theatre arts and performed in numerous theatrical productions.  He also wrote and produced and directed the University's first film production "Sylvia and Sally of the Sand Dunes" (1973). He graduated with a BSE in vocal and instrumental music and minor in psychology, followed with postgrad study in theatre arts.

He modeled extensively in Minneapolis, Tulsa, Dallas, and New York. He also appeared in bits in numerous films such as "Split Image" (1982), "Handgun" (1982), "The Cotton Club" (1984), and acted in episodes of "Dallas" (1981-82), and "Central Park West" (1995) on TV. Over the years he also performed in numerous community and off-Broadway theatrical productions, such as Luigi Januzzi's "The Appointment," which won the Samuel French Award in 1994. Shearer was employed in corporate America from 1988 until 2007, heading up various desks and diversity groups for major corporations in Manhattan.

Shearer began writing film history and biography in his teens, having had reviews published in national publications.  Over the years he has contributed research to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Library. His close friend, actress Patricia Neal, became his muse when he penned her definitive biography "Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life" (University Press of Kentucky, 2006).  The book was optioned for film and became the basis of the 2021 feature British film "To Olivia," which starred Hugh Bonneville, Keeley Hawes, Geoffrey Palmer, and Sam Heughan.

Stephen Michael Shearer has also written several other successfully acclaimed biographies – "Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr" (St. Martin's Press-Macmillan, 2010), "Gloria Swanson: The Ultimate Star" (St. Martin's Press-Macmillan, 2013), "Glamour and Style: The Beauty of Hedy Lamarr" (Lyons Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2022), "Gloria Swanson: Hollywood's First Glamour Queen" (Lyons Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2024), an unpublished novel "September - A Passion," plus numerous film articles for leading magazines, and the series "Legendary Las Vegas Headliners" for The Las Vegas Review Journal.  He is currently working on two more major film biographies, two more coffee table photo books, plus his first autobiography.

As a film historian Stephen Michael Shearer has appeared in such television and feature film documentaries, in as the PBS/American Masters feature documentary "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story" (2017) produced by actress Susan Sarandon, based in part on his 2010 Lamarr biography. This was followed by "Boulevard: A Hollywood Story" (2021), based in part on his 2013 Swanson biography. As an actor in recent years, Stephen Michael Shearer co-starred with Billy Ray Cyrus, Heather Locklear, and Patricia Neal (her last film) in "Flying By" (2009).