About Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer was a world-famous Canadian-American producer.
Mayer created the legendary Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studio, which produced more movies and film stars than any other studio in the world in the mid-1900s. He was known as the 'Lion of Hollywood' because of the incredible exposure he gave to Hollywood movies.
Mayer rose from a poverty-stricken childhood to become the highest-paid individual in the USA. He dominated the movie business earning more than 170 Academy Award nominations on behalf of MGM. Two of MGM's most iconic movies, 'Gone With The Wind' and 'The Wizard Of Oz' received Oscar nominations in the same year. 'Gone With The Wind' ultimately took home the Best Pictures Award, along with eight other Oscars. Keep reading to know more about this legendary producer's life.
Louis B. Mayer Net Worth, Earnings & Spending Habits
What was Louis B. Mayer's net worth?
Louis B. Mayer was the founder of the world-famous Metro Goldwyn Mayer studio in Hollywood. He reigned supremely in the American film industry in the early 1900s, earning millions, but his exact net worth was not confirmed.
How much did Louis B. Mayer earn per year?
Louis B. Mayer is a Canadian-American film producer and the owner of MGM studios. He is known as the pioneer of Hollywood's golden age. When producers were earning meager amounts, he became the first American to earn a million-dollar salary. From 1937-1946 he earned around $1,300,000, which is equivalent to $23,120,139 today. During that time, Louis Mayer became the highest-paid person in the USA.
Height, Age & Physical Attributes
How tall was Louis B. Mayer?
Louis B. Mayer had a height of 5 ft 6 in (167 cm).
How old was Louis B. Mayer?
Louis B. Mayer was born in the Russian empire on July 12, 1884. He passed away on October 29, 1957, in Los Angeles, California, USA. He was 73 years old when he passed away. His zodiac sign is Cancer.
Childhood And Education
Louis B. Mayer's birth name was possibly Lazar Meir. He was born to parents, Jacob Meir and Sarah Meltzer, in the Russian empire. The exact location of his birth is a point of contention to date. He had two sisters, Ida and Yetta, and their family spoke the Yiddish language at home.
Mayer was born on July 12, but he later forged his birth certificate to change it to July 4. According to the U.S immigration documents, Mayer's date of birth is July 4, 1885. He was born in poverty, and his family struggled financially during his childhood.
In the early '90s, his family moved to the USA. They lived on Long Island from 1887-1891, where his brothers Jeremiah and Rubin were born. Then the family moved again, and Mayer was sent to an adoption home in Saint John, New Brunswick. He spent a significant part of his childhood in Saint John and completed his primary education at a local school.
Louis Mayer's father started a scrap metal business in New Brunswick. He named it J. Mayer and Son. But as he was unskilled, he often failed to make a living in the scrap metal business. So young Louis Mayer had to quit school at 12 to look after his father's business. He scavenged the streets and collected any scrap he came across. He even dived into the Bay of Fundy to collect metals from shipwrecks.
Within three years, he took over the business from his father to support his family better. At that time, he came across John Wilson, who owned a tin business, and, impressed by Mayer's polite nature, Wilson started helping him by giving him spare copper trimmings. Mayer and Wilson developed a great bond, and Mayer considered him his first partner and best friend then.
Mayer was smitten with the entertainment industry from a young age. He visited the York Theater and sometimes paid to watch vaudeville shows in his free time. He was always keen to learn the nuances of film direction and production. Then in 1904, Louis Mayer left for Boston at 20. He ran the scrap metal business for a while to send money to his family and did other odd jobs.
Family, Romance, And Relationships
Who was Louis B. Mayer's partner?
Louis Mayer first married Margaret Shenberg. The couple had two daughters, Edith Mayer and Irene Mayer. They divorced after the birth of their daughters. Edith Mayer married William Goetz, vice president of 20th Century Fox and president of Universal Pictures. Irene Mayer married film producer David O. Selznick and became a theater producer herself. In 1948, Mayer married American actress Lorena Layson Danker.
Career And Professional Highlights
Best Known For…
Louis B. Mayer is better known as the 'Lion Of Hollywood'. This Canadian-American producer's way of making films changed the look and feel of Hollywood films in the 1900s. Hollywood was a dreamland, and for more than 40 years, no one constructed those dreams better than Mayer, the creator of the legendary Metro Goldwyn Mayer studio.
Louis Mayer started his career in the entertainment industry in 1907 by renovating the Gem Theater in Haverhill, Massachusetts. This theater, which he fondly referred to as the 'Garlic Box' to fit the desires of the Italian immigrants, was nothing but a rundown 600-seater building.
Mayer opened his first movie theater and aired the religious film 'From Manager To The Cross' in 1912. Following its success, Mayer took ownership of the remaining five movie theaters in Haverhill and created the Gordon-Mayer partnership with fellow businessman Nathan H. Gordon to control the largest theater chain in New England. He pawned his wife's wedding ring to buy the rights to 'Birth Of A Nation', the first movie to run in New England's theater chain.
In 1916, Louis Mayer moved to Los Angeles to form his own production company, Louis B. Mayer's Production Company. The company's first production was 'Virtuous Wives' which was released in 1918. In 1922, Mayer met Irvin Thalberg, who worked for Universal Pictures. Mayer was looking for someone hard working with a knack for making high-quality yet commercially successful films to manage his dynamic studio, and Thalberg seemed to fit that criterion. So he was immediately made the vice-president of Louis B. Mayer's Production Company.
In April 1924, Louis Mayer formed Metro Goldwyn Mayer studio by merging Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation, and Louis B. Mayer's Production Company. Irvin Thalberg was made co-founder and given part ownership of MGM studio, and Marcus Loew became the new vice-president. Within three years, MGM became the largest studio in Hollywood.
The MGM studio was huge to say the least. It was built on 167 acres of land, had 30 soundstages, phony jungles, and a real zoo that housed all the animals used in MGM films. The MGM lion, which made its appearance to thunderous applause in packed theaters at the start of every movie, was also kept in a separate cage inside the zoo. The studio even housed a barbershop, several eateries, and a fully armed police force. Louis Mayer and Irvin Thalberg had a brilliant understanding of each other.
Thalberg had an excellent mind for quality narratives and looked after all MGM productions. With his superior business acumen, Mayer controlled budgets and the approval of new shows. But MGM received a huge blow when Thalberg died on September 14, 1936. Many productions were stalled, and the studio was closed for an entire day during his funeral.
Later, Mayer renamed MGM's front office building the Thalberg Building. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science established the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for producers with exceptional careers, which has now become one of the most prestigious awards in Hollywood.
After the initial blow, MGM studio continued to thrive under Mayer's able leadership. In 1939, MGM studio delivered one hit film after the other. Mayer produced award-winning movies like 'Gone With The Wind', 'The Wizard Of Oz', 'Babes In Arms' and 'At The Circus'. 'Goodbye, Mr. Chips', an oscar-winning film, was released in the same year. Mayer believed in a system of creating film stars. In an interview, he said if he liked somebody's face, he took that person in and made a star out of him with the help of acting coaches, make-up artists, hairdressers, and clothing designers.
There were many MGM stars the studio created, such as Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Clark Gable, and Joan Crowford. MGM had more child actors than any other studio during Hollywood's golden age. Some notable child actors who became world-famous at their prime were Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Judie Garland, and Roddy McDowall.
Louis B. Mayer was a businessman at heart. He was a great executive and became the studio chief and head of production after Thalberg's death. He did not have a fixed schedule; instead, he always worked at the studio. MGM studio reached its peak during the '40s. At that time, Mayer hired over 6,000 employees.
The studio had its own rail line, and around 14-16 films were shot simultaneously in a day. When new actors were hired, they often signed a contract of 2-3 years, becoming a part of the large MGM family. Mayer hired experts to run different departments and never interfered in their job, which led to the smooth running of MGM. Under the able guidance of Louis Mayer, all the employees felt secure about their jobs.
After the Second World War hit Europe in 1939, Mayer produced two anti-German films, 'The Mortal Storm' and 'Escape'. At the same time, Warner Brothers produced 'Confession Of A Nazi Spy'. All these films ran into controversies, and the German government threatened to boycott all of Mayer's movies. But Mayer stood his ground and released those films, which eventually became big box-office hits.
Louis Mayer resigned from MGM in 1951. He was given a red carpet farewell, with actors and executives applauding him for his incredible contribution to the MGM. Many considered this the end of an era; some even called it the end of Hollywood. Mayer received an honorary Oscar in 1951 for leading MGM for 25 years. After leaving MGM, Mayer intended to create an independent film studio with new actors. He named the studio Cinerama, but the studio didn't receive enough success.
Louis Mayer was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after 1954 and passed away on October 29, 1957. He was buried in Los Angeles, California, near the MGM studio. He was one of the greatest producers to grace Hollywood, and his ability to understand the audience's pulse set him in a league different from others in his profession. According to several critics, Mayer's view of America became America's view of itself at one point.
Louis B. Mayer founded the Louis B. Mayer Foundation, which is still in operation in New York City, USA. This organization provides cutting-edge medical research facilities for the treatment of cancer. It also takes an active role in restoring and preserving old films.
What awards did Louis B. Mayer win?
Louis Mayer was a father figure in American movies in the 20th century. He won many awards and accolades in his long career. He was given an honorary Oscar in 1951 for his contributions as a film producer. The MGM studio he founded has won over 170 Academy Awards, including 12 Best Motion Pictures Awards. Mayer's name is listed on Canada's Walk of Fame.
Other Interesting Louis B. Mayer Facts And Trivia
- Louis Mayer served as the chairman of the Republican Party of California in 1931 and 1932.
- A street in Quebec, Montreal, is named after Louis Mayer.
- Louis Mayer's life and career have been portrayed in films like 'Malice In Wonderland', 'Harlow', 'Mommie Dearest', and 'Life With Judy Garland'.
- Mayer served as the production executive for John M. Stahl Production in 1922.
- Mayer loved horse riding. He owned many beautiful horses on his ranch in Perris, California, near Los Angeles.
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