Louis B. Mayer

Summary

Louis Barth Mayer (June 30, 1884, Dymer, Kyiv Province – October 29, 1957) was an American film producer, known as the director and one of the founders of the Hollywood film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which annually awards an Oscar, also proposed by him.

Louis Meyer, sometimes referred to simply as L. B. (“L.B.”), created an entertainment empire and has been called the creator of a galaxy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie stars of its golden years, said to be “more of them than there are stars in the sky.

He was born into a Jewish family in the village of Dymer in the Russian Empire in what is now the Kiev region of Ukraine. The actual date of birth is unknown – presumably July 12. When he applied for American citizenship he chose July 4, the United States Independence Day, as his birthday; he first wrote 1884 and then 1885.

In addition to Lazarus, the family of Jacob Meyer and Sarah Meltzer also had daughters Etta (1878) and Ida (1883).

Fearing pogroms, the family emigrated when Lazarus was about two years old to the United States and settled in Rhode Island. There the family of Jacob and Sarah lived from 1887 to 1892, at which time sons Rubin (Rudolph, 1888) and Jeremiah (Jerry, 1891) were born. The family then moved to St. John, Canada, where Lazarus went to school and where he and his brothers were subjected to anti-Semitic attacks by their peers. His father earned a living collecting scrap metal and disposing of household waste, and involved his son in this endeavor, naming the company J. Mayer & Sons. The mother worked on a poultry farm.

In 1904, nineteen-year-old Louis left St. John”s and went to Boston, where for a time he continued to earn a living in the “steel” business, but soon married Margaret Schoenberg, and was making odd jobs to feed his family, and through chance got a job in a movie theater. Louis and Margaret lived together until 1947.

Mayer, with the help of family and friends, leased and restored the worn-out 600-seat Gem Theater in Haverhill, Massachusetts, used for burlesque shows, and opened his first Orpheum Theater in it on November 28, 1907. To overcome the unfavorable reputation of the building, once owned by the congregation, Meyer decided to begin showing with a religious film; years later he called From the Manger to the Cross the first film shown, although most sources date the film to 1912. Within a few years Meyer had taken possession of all five Haverhill theaters. He then formed with Nathan H. Gordon the Gordon-Meyer partnership, which controlled the largest theater chain in New England.

In 1914 the partners set up their own distribution agency in Boston. Mayer paid D. W.  Griffith $25,000 for exclusive rights to show The Birth of a Nation (1915) in New England. In 1916 Mayer, along with millionaire Richard A. Rowland, created the Metro Pictures Corporation in New York City with its film studio. In the same year, Louis Meyer”s first film, The Big Secret, was released.

Two years later Louis Mayer moved with the firm to Los Angeles out of fear of the Motion Picture Patent Company. That same year he terminated his partnership with Roland and formed his own production company, the Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation, to which he lured the already famous Vitagraph actress Anita Stewart. The company”s first production was the 1918 film The Virtuous Wives. In partnership with B. P. Schulberg, the Mayer-Schulberg Studios was established.

Mayer was successful, however, in April 1924 Marcus Loew, owner of the Loews Theatres chain, acquired and merged three film companies – Metro Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn Pictures and Mayer Pictures – into the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Corporation under his control from New York. Mayer, on the other hand, as vice president of production, based in Los Angeles, effectively ran MGM for the next 27 years. In 1925 Mayer produced his most successful film, Ben-Hur: The Story of Christ.

In 1927 Lowe died, leaving control of MGM to Nicholas Schenk. In 1929, William Fox, owner of the rival studio of the Fox Film Corporation, arranged for the purchase of a controlling interest in the company from Schenk. Louis Mayer and Irving Thalberg were outraged-they had co-founded MGM, but they were not informed of the deal; this worsened the already strained relationship between Schenk and Mayer. Mayer went to the Justice Department and, through his political connections, succeeded in charging Fox with antitrust violations. The fact that Fox had been seriously injured in a traffic accident in the summer of 1929, as well as the stock market crash of the fall of 1929, put an end to the merger, even with a favorable decision by the Department. Nonetheless, Schenck blamed Mayer for the collapse of the deal and did not forgive him.

Meyer desired what he called “healthy entertainment,” fear of God, patriotism, and family values, all to the point of escapism, in his films. He often clashed with production manager Irving Thalberg, who preferred difficult and critical work. He eventually forced the latter out of business while he was recovering from a heart attack in 1932. In the interim, Meyer ran the studio, putting his son-in-law D. Selznick. Mayer later took over himself when Thalberg died in 1936.

Louis Meyer made MGM the most financially successful movie studio in the world, the only one that paid dividends to shareholders during the Great Depression of the 1930s. At the height of the depression, film budgets here were at least $150,000 more than at the other studios. Under Mayer, MGM produced many successful films with expensive actors such as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, Jean Harlow, Judy Garland and many others. Meyer himself became the highest paid wage earner in the United States with a seven-figure income.

Louis Meyer had a reputation as an oppressive businessman, guided only by rationality in choosing appropriate subjects for his films and is said to have had narrow-minded views. He often insisted and pushed for a rewrite of the script, interfered in the direction. Many people remember him as a very unpleasant man, not bent in his relations with the stubborn actors to the anger, threats, blackmail. In particular, with a great relief withdrawal from MGM took famous producer Michael Belkon, who was forced to work for her from November 1936 to May 1938. However, Katharine Hepburn referred to him as a “good man” (she personally negotiated her contracts with Mayer), and young actresses such as Debbie Reynolds, June Ellison and Leslie Caron revered him as a father figure. His studios paid the highest royalties and gave him the most creative freedom. Producer Pandro S. Berman (Pandro S. Berman) recalled that he, like other leaders of the movie business: “… lured creators to him, but then continued to flatter them, praising the sky, confident that this man was very wise to decide to work for him, Meyer.

An active member of the Republican Party, Mayer was vice-chairman in 1931-1932 and chairman in 1932-1933 of its affiliate, the California Republican Party. He supported, among others, Herbert Hoover, who became president of the United States, and Joseph McCarthy, the future senator. He and Thalberg played a role in the defeat of the reformist EPIC movement in the 1934 California gubernatorial elections by being among the first to use modern PR techniques as well as a set of specially made pseudo-documentary short films attacking Sinclair.

By 1948, due to the introduction of television and changes in public taste, MGM had suffered significant losses. In addition, the Supreme Court decided that the connection between the studio and the cinema chain should be severed.

The MGM corporate office in New York in 1948 decided that screenwriter and director Dor Sheri, recently hired at RKO Radio Pictures, could go back – he preferred more progressive and left-liberal themes and did not work well with Meyer. In 1951, MGM was left without an Academy Award for the third time, triggering a new conflict between Mayer and Schenk. Sheri was hired again, already as production manager. Sheri”s activities were in stark contrast to Meyer”s principles, and Meyer gave an ultimatum: It was either him or Sheri, after which he was fired by Schenk. Mayer tried to overthrow Schenck on the board, but failed. He had to retire.

Mayer had two daughters from his first marriage to Margaret Schoenberg. The elder, Edith (1905-1987), was the wife of producer William Goetz, who became president of Universal Pictures but also held liberal views, for which Meyer disinherited Edith.

The youngest, Irene Gladys (1907-1990), was the wife of producer David Selznick. She wrote an autobiography, A Private View (1983), in which she talked about her father, among other things.

In 1947 Mayer divorced and a year later married Lorena Danker, with whom he lived for the rest of his life.

In 1935-1936, had as mistresses novice actress Beatrice Roberts, who was 21 years younger than him.

Mayer kept a number of successful thoroughbred racehorses on his 2 km² ranch in Perris, California, 116 km east of Los Angeles. Scott Eyman (r.), author of his biography, believed that Meyer built one of the best stables in the United States and that he almost single-handedly raised standards in California. Among his horses were Yu Host (Boucher (as well as the winner of the “Preakness Stakes (Eng.) (Russ. 1959 Royal Orbit (Eng.) (Russ.

Meyer was forced to sell the stud farm to cover costs from his 1947 divorce. His 248 horses were valued at more than $4.4 million. In 1976, California Thoroughbred magazine named him the California Breeder of the Century.

The Death of Paul Byrne

In 1990 Samuel Marks and Joyce Vanderveen wrote Deadly Illusions. Marks was an editor at MGM and a friend of Irving Thalberg and Paul Byrne (Eng.) (Russ., husband of Jean Harlow (MGM star) at the time of Byrne”s death. On September 5, 1932, Marks arrived at Byrne”s house – the police had been informed of the discovery of Byrne”s body – and saw Thalberg falsifying evidence, and the next day Meyer, to cover up the scandal, ordered articles written about the suicide allegedly being committed because of impotence.

In the 1980s, Marks researched the case and the available evidence and concluded that Berne was murdered by his ex-civilian wife Dorothy Millett, who then committed suicide – two days after Berne”s death she threw herself off the ferry. “The Suicide Note” was actually written by Byrne a few weeks before his death to apologize for minor quarrels with Harlow over the location of their home, not impotence at all. Byrne bought a bouquet of roses and sent them to Jean with the note, which was treated by the bribed MGM district attorney, Buron Fitts, as a suicide note.

John Houston”s hit-and-run

On September 25, 1933, actor John Huston, while driving his car, hit a woman who died from her injuries. Mayer paid a bribe of about $400,000 to hush up the criminal case and keep it out of the press.

The Death of Ted Healy

One version of the death of actor Ted Healy in December 1937 is that he was beaten to death at the Trocadero nightclub by screen legend Wallace Beery, the young Albert Brocco (later producer of James Bond films) and the notorious gangster by screen legend Wallace Beery, a young Albert Broccoli (later the producer of the James Bond films), and the infamous gangster (and Broccoli”s cousin) Pat DiCicco. MGM, allegedly on Mayer”s orders, sent Beery to Europe for several months, and in the meantime fabricated a story about Healy”s beating by “three college boys” to cover up the truth.

Firing William Haynes

In 1933, MGM star William Haynes was caught by the Young Men”s Christian Association with a sailor in Pershing Square, Los Angeles. Meyer gave Haynes an ultimatum: Marry a woman and end his relationship with Jimmy Shields-or be fired. Haynes chose Shields and lived with him for 50 years. Meyer fired Haynes and terminated his contract, taking Robert Montgomery for his intended roles.

Louis Bart Meier died of leukemia on October 29, 1957, and was buried in the Home of Peace Cemetery in East Los Angeles. His sister Ida and brothers Jerry and Rudolph are also buried there. His mother and father are buried in Fernhill Cemetery in St. John. His last phrase, according to legend, was “It doesn”t matter.”

Mayer, co-founder of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hosts the major film awards every year, was awarded an honorary Oscar and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Time magazine selected him as one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Mayer also has a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame.

The Santa Clara University Theatre in California is named for Meyer.

Louis Meyer has been portrayed many times in feature films (mostly satirically), including Mommie Dearest, RKO 281, De-Lovely, The Aviator, The Last Tycoon, Barton Fink, The Death of Superman, Vacation Swap, Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows,” “Cats Don”t Dance,” “Harlow,” “Gable and Lombard,” “Feud,” “Judy,” “Munk.

Sources

  1. Майер, Луис Барт
  2. Louis B. Mayer
  3. ^ a b “Louis B. Mayer | The Canadian Encyclopedia”. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca.
  4. ^ a b Mayer maintained that he was born in Minsk on July 4, 1885. According to Scott Eyman, the reasons may have been: Mayer”s father gave different dates for his birthplace at different times, so Mayer was not comfortable specifying a date; It was part of Mayer”s sense of showmanship and being born on July 4 seemed to stand for patriotism and had a certain ring to it; “He needed to believe in a myth of self-creation which, in his case, was not far off the mark”; When Mayer was young, his family constantly moved around in the general area of Minsk, Vilnius and Kyiv; As Jews, they felt insecure and therefore were reluctant to be specific.
  5. 1 2 Scott Eyman. Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer. — Simon and Schuster, 2008-06-23. — 612 с. — ISBN 9781439107911. Архивная копия от 16 ноября 2016 на Wayback Machine
  6. 1 2 Scott Eyman. Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer. — Simon and Schuster, 2008-06-23. — 612 с. — ISBN 9781439107911. Архивная копия от 16 ноября 2016 на Wayback Machine
  7. 1 2 Steven J. Ross. Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics (англ.). — Oxford University Press, 2011-09-06. — 527 p. — ISBN 9780199911431. Архивная копия от 16 ноября 2016 на Wayback Machine
  8. Елена Мищенко, Александр Штейнберг. Голливудский Раджа. Луис Мейер. — Litres, 2017-09-05. — 64 с. — ISBN 9785457941571. Архивная копия от 9 октября 2017 на Wayback Machine
  9. John F. Oppenheimer (Red.) u. a.: Lexikon des Judentums. 2. Auflage. Bertelsmann Lexikon Verlag, Gütersloh u. a. 1971, ISBN 3-570-05964-2, Sp. 476.
  10. a b Scott Eyman: Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer. Simon & Schuster, 2012, ISBN 978-0743269179, Seite 18.
  11. IMDb
  12. ^ [1]