Louis B. Mayer

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Louis B. Mayer (right) with Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney

Louis Burt Mayer (born July 12, 1884 in Dymer , Russian Empire , † October 29, 1957 in Los Angeles , California ; actually Lazar Mayer or Eliezer Meir ) was an American film producer . For decades, Mayer headed the film company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer , or MGM for short, which he made into the best-known and most profitable company in the film industry at the time. Mayer had the idea of ​​founding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences , which has been awarding the Oscars since 1929 and was one of the founding members.


Various information is circulating about Louis B. Mayer's exact date and place of birth. July 12th, 1884 is generally accepted, but he himself has repeatedly named 1885 as the year of his birth and the patriotically significant 4th of July, American Independence Day , as the day of his birth. MGM long named Minsk as the place of birth in Mayer's company biography . His biographer Scott Eyman gives the small settlement Dymer in the Russian Empire as the place of birth . The family emigrated from Russia to Canada around 1888. Mayer quickly recognized the financial potential of the Nickelodeon and opened his first cinema in 1907. Within a few years he owned 90 percent of all New England cinemas and was making a fortune in 1915 with exclusive distribution rights to The Birth of a Nation , the most financially successful film to date. In 1916 he founded the Metro Pictures Corporation with Richard A. Rowland, based in New York. In 1918 he went with the company to Hollywood for fear of the Edison Trust . In the same year, Mayer terminated the partnership with Rowland and, in search of a popular star, persuaded the well-known actress Anita Stewart to leave her previous studio Vitagraph and work for the newly founded Louis B. Mayer Pictures . 1924 made Marcus Loew Mayer head of the new company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer , which became known under the acronym MGM. In 1925 the studio celebrated its first major success with Ben Hur . As a studio boss, Louis B. Mayer and MGM established the most financially successful film studio in the world for a long time from the 1930s. His business policy made a decisive contribution to the fact that MGM was the only one of the big film studios to write no losses even during the economic depression in the early 1930s. Actors who worked for MGM under his aegis included Greta Garbo , Joan Crawford , Clark Gable , Spencer Tracy , Katharine Hepburn , James Stewart , Jean Harlow , Judy Garland , Elizabeth Taylor , Lana Turner , Hedy Lamarr and Ava Gardner . The studio advertised at times with the slogan More Stars than in Heaven .

Mayer strove to produce "morally valuable" films, so-called "healthy entertainment", which should instill a reverence for religious beliefs, patriotism and family values ​​in the viewer, but sometimes crossed the line of escapism . Because of this, he regularly clashed with production manager Irving Thalberg , who preferred sophisticated and critical literary adaptations. In 1932, Mayer finally pushed Thalberg out of business while he was recovering from a heart attack. After a transition period, during which Mayer always employed new production managers, he took over the position himself in 1936, making him the first US company chairman to earn a six-figure income. Mayer enjoyed the reputation of a merciless businessman who ran his studio strictly. His tears were legendary when he wanted to get his own way with unruly stars. Some actors like Greta Garbo or Esther Williams were unimpressed by Mayer and won a number of arguments with the studio boss about more money and better working conditions. David O. Selznick , who was married to Mayer's daughter Irene, worked for MGM from 1933 to 1935, but decided in 1936 to found his own film company, Selznick International Pictures .

In 1948, at the instigation of Nicholas Schenck , President of MGM's parent company Loews, Inc., Dore Schary became MGM's new production manager. In 1951 Dore Schary finally replaced Mayer after 27 years in his role in the operational management of MGM.

Louis B. Mayer's star on Canada's Walk of Fame

Mayer was an active Republican supporter . He particularly supported Herbert Hoover and later Senator Joseph McCarthy . From 1931 to 1932 he was vice chairman of the party in California, from 1932 to 1933 chairman. In 1934 he fought Upton Sinclair's bid for the office of California governor .

Private life

From 1904 to 1947 Mayer was married to Margaret Shenberg, the marriage, which resulted in two daughters, was divorced. In 1948 he married the much younger Lorena Layson, with whom he remained married until his death. He died of leukemia in 1957 at the age of 73 and was buried in the Home of Peace Cemetery in east Los Angeles. Louis B. Mayer's last words were supposedly: "Nothing matters."

Mayer, one of the co-founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences , which awards the Oscars annually , was honored with an honorary Oscar and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame . TIME Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People of the 20th Century. Mayer has been portrayed or mentioned in a mostly satirical distortion in a number of films, including Aviator , Love Doesn't Need a Vacation and Barton Fink .


Web links

Commons : Louis B. Mayer  - Collection of Images

Individual evidence

  1. John F. Oppenheimer (Red.) And a .: Lexicon of Judaism. 2nd Edition. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh u. a. 1971, ISBN 3-570-05964-2 , col. 476.
  2. ^ A b Scott Eyman: Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer . Simon & Schuster, 2012, ISBN 978-0743269179 , page 18.
  3. Budd Schulberg: Louis B. Mayer: Lion Of Hollywood . time.com , December 7, 1988, accessed September 1, 2017 (English),
  4. IMDb