Louis B. Mayer

Louis B. Mayer

1882 - 1957

The producer Louis B. Mayer was born as Ezemmiel Mayer in the Ukraine. At the age of two his parents fled to Canada where he grew up in poverty, moreover he was afflicted under the abuse of his father. 

When he was twenty he went to Boston where he first worked as a scrap iron trader. In 1907 he opened his first movie theater and his business was so successful that he soon possessed 90% of all cinemas in New England. Thanks to a participation for the movie "The Birth of a Nation" (15) he became rich overnight. 
He soon widened his activities and also appeared as a film producer from 1916. He founded together with Richard A. Rowland the "Metro Pictures Corporation",later he run the  "Louis B. Mayer Productions" together with Irving Thalberg. 
To his first movies as a producer belong "Always in the Way" (15), "Lovely Mary" (16), "Virtuous Wives" (18), "Mary Regan" (19), "Human Desire" (19) and "In Old Kentucky" (19). 

In the 20's followed movies like "The Inferior Sex" (20), "Polly of the Storm Country" (20), "Habit" (21), "The Invisible Fear" (21) and "The Wanters" (23). 

His production company was combined in 1924 with Marcus Loew's already united "Metro Pictures" und "Samuel Goldwyn Pictures", out of it came first "Metro-Goldwyn Pictures" and finally the still today well-known Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer or MGM. The logo with the roaring lion was taken over from Goldwyn Pictures. 

To Mayer's big movies of the beginning of this era belong Erich von Stroheim's cult movie "Greed" (24) and the monumental movie "Ben-Hur" (25). Both movies enjoyed great popularity, anyway the movies did not account for the financial profit of the company because the production costs had rocket upwards. Therefore these movies were looked at as prestige projects which established MGM as the leading production company lasting ahead Universal 
The company was already able to make big profit with the movie "The Big Parade" (25) which achieved a turnover of 15 Million Dollars by a costs of 250'000 Dollars. 

MGM became the most important film production company for the next decades and was famous for its star system. Their statement was "More stars than there are in heaven" and Louis B. Mayer was regarded as the creator of this system. 

Louis B. Mayer became the best paid executive director in the USA (he earned about 1.3 Million Dollar in 1937) and was the most influential person in Hollywood at the same time. Beside it he also was famous for horse breeding. 

When Marcus Loew died unexpectedly in 1926 he had to nominate a replacement and found one in the person of Nicholas Schenck. But the relationship between this two men were difficult and it became worse when Schenck tried to sell MGM to Fox underhand in 1929. 
But Louis B. Mayer was able to thwart these.

MGM also worked together with producer Hal Roach and published Roach's "Our Gang". The collaboration ended when Louis B. Mayer experienced that Roach was also dealing with Benito Mussolini. 

MGM came up with a huge star ensemble in the 30's, to the well-known stars belonged Jean Harlow, Jean Crawford, Norma Shearer, Myrna Loy, William Powell, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Greta Garbo, James Stewart, Lon Chaney, die Marx-Brothers, John and Lionel Barrymore or Cary Grant. 

Louis B. Mayer's business sense was legendary. When he was a kind of a father figure for the ones he was able to make the life difficult for others. By discussions about the salary with his stars he was able to use tears – successfully adopted with Robert Taylor – but also to threat or cry and many stars like Judy Garland suffered from his interference into their private life. 
The power of Louis B Mayer only diminished after the end of World War II when the taste of the audience changed and he was not able to follow these new requirements. 

When Paramount and Columbia passed MGM the management nominated Dore Schary – who was a former screen writer – as the new executive producer and became a serious competition for Louis B. Mayer, especially because Nicholas Schenck had an ear for Dore Schary. 
The disputes between Mayer and Schary accumulated over the years and in 1951 Louis B. Mayer offered his retirement in the hope that he would be able to enforce his will at the end. But the unthinkable happened and the management accepted his retirement and the once most powerful man of Hollywood was out of business. His last movie he was responsible for MGM was "Quo Vadis" (51), which was a huge success. 
Louis B. Mayer belonged to the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which till today awards the Oscars. In 1951 he got himself an Honorary Award for his lifework. 

He was among others married with the actress Lorena Layson. His step-son was the legendary producer David O. Selznick. Louis B. Mayer came down with leukemia and died in 1957 at the age of about 75 years – his exact birthday is contentious. 

The Time magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential persons of the 20th century. 

Other movies from Louis B. Mayer (Producer):
Barbara Frietchie (15) Dimples (16) The Great Secret (17) Somewhere in America (17) A Midnight Romance (19) Her Kingdom of Dreams (19) The Fighting Shepherdess (20) The Yellow Typhoon (20) The Woman in His House (20) Harriet and the Piper (20) Sowing the Wind (21) Playthings of Destiny (21) Her Mad Bargain (21) A Question of Honor (22) The Woman He Married (22) Rose o' the Sea (22) Strangers of the Night (23) Thy Name is Woman (24) Why Men Leave Home (24) Wine of Youth (24) He Who Gets Slapped (24) I Take This Woman (40) 

The Bishop's Emeralds (19) Old Dad (20) The Child Thou Gavest Me (21) The Song of Life (22) One Clear Call (22) Hearts Aflame (23) The Famous Mrs. Fair (23) The Eternal Struggle (23) Women Who Give (24) Bread (24) Tess of the D'Urbervilles (249 Sinners in Silk (24) The Red Lily (24) His Hour (24) Married Flirts (24) The Snob (24) So This Is Marriage? (24) The Silent Accuser (24) The Wife of the Centaur (24) The Dixie Handicap (24) Excuse Me (259 The Great Divide (25) Lady of the Night (25) Dadd'y Gone A-Hunting (25) The Denial (25) Confessions of a Queen (25) Man and Maid (25) The Sporting Venus (25) Proud Flesh (25) The White Desert (25) Fine Clothes (25) The Unholy Three (25) Mike (26) Memory Lane (26) West of Zanzibar (28)