Louis B. Mayer
73 (passed away Oct. 29th, 1957)
Jul. 12th, 1884
Louis B. Mayer's Main TV Roles[no roles found]
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Mayer was born Lazar Mayer in the Ukraine and grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada after his parents fled Russian oppression in 1886. He had a brutal childhood, raised in poverty and suffering physical and emotional abuse from his nearly-illiterate peddler father. In the early 1890s, he changed his name to Louis and fudged his birth date to reflect the more "patriotic" date of July 4, 1885. He moved to Boston in 1904 and struggled as a scrap-metal dealer until he was able to purchase a burlesque house. Although he made large sums by showing films (he made a sizable fortune off The Birth of a Nation (1915)), his early business ventures favored legitimate theater in New England. As his theater empire expanded, he had acquired and refurbished enough small movie theaters that he was able to move his business to Los Angeles and venture into movie production in 1918. Along with Samuel Goldwyn and Marcus Loew of Metro Pictures, he formed a new company called Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).
Over the next 25 years, MGM was "the Tiffany of the studios," producing more films and movie stars than any other studio in the world. Mayer became the prime creator of the enduring Hollywood of myth, home to stars like Clark Gable, Judy Garland (I), Joan Crawford (I), and Jean Harlow. Mayer became the highest-paid man in America, one of the country's most successful horse breeders, a political force and Hollywood's leading spokesman. Both he and MGM reached their peaks at the end of World War II, and Mayer was forced out in 1951. He died of leukemia in 1957.
- Lived at 332 St. Cloud Road in Bel Air (Mayer's original home has been torn down).
- Active in Republican Party politics, serving as the vice chairman of the Republican Party of California from 1931 to 1932 and as its state chairman between 1932 and 1933.
- Salary as head of MGM in 1937, $1,300,000.
- Father of 'Irene Mayer Selznick' (qv).
- Mayer, according to Peter Hays' 1991 book "When the Lion Roars," idealized his mother. He was her favorite son, and she was the main influence on his life. She died in 1913, and Mayer kept a picture of her over his bed the rest of his life. With his mother an icon in his eyes, Mayer revered the concept of motherhood. When director 'Erich von Stroheim' (qv) expressed the opinion to Mayer that all women were whores, Mayer asked him if he thought of his own mother that way, and then punched him in the face. Mayer told screenwriter 'Frances Marion' (qv), at their first meeting, that she should never write anything that would embarrass Mayer's own wife and two daughters. He told her, "I worship good women, honorable men and saintly mothers."
- Uncle of production manager 'Al Shenberg' (qv).
- Uncle of directors 'Fred M. Wilcox' (qv) and 'Gerald Mayer' (qv) .
- Was highest paid American business executive throughout the 1930s.
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