Louis B. Mayer

Film Producer
Born Jul 4, 1885

Louis Burt Mayer born Lazar Meir was an Canadian American film producer. He is generally cited as the creator of the "star system" within Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) in its golden years. Known always as Louis B. Mayer and often simply as "L.B. ", he believed in wholesome entertainment and went to great lengths so that MGM had "more stars than there are in the heavens".… Read More

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1884 Birth Mayer was born Lazar Meir to a Jewish family in Minsk, Belarus then in the Russian Empire and now in Belarus. Probably his date of birth was July 12, 1884. … Read More
1887 2 Years Old Mayer first moved with his family to Rhode Island, where they lived from 1887 to 1892 and where his two brothers were born—Rubin, in April 1888, and Jeremiah, in April 1891. … Read More


1904 19 Years Old In his spare time, he hung around the York theater, sometimes paying to watch the live vaudeville shows. He became enamored with the entertainment business. Then in 1904 the 19-year-old Mayer left Saint John for Boston, where he continued for a time in the scrap metal business, got married, and took a variety of odd jobs to support his new family when his junk business lagged.


1907 22 Years Old Mayer renovated the Gem Theater, a rundown, 600 seat burlesque house in Haverhill, Massachusetts, which he reopened on November 28, 1907 as the Orpheum, his first movie theater.
1912 27 Years Old To overcome an unfavorable reputation that the building had, Mayer opened with a religious film at his new Orpheum, From the Manger to the Cross, in 1912. … Read More


1916 31 Years Old Mayer partnered with Richard A. Rowland in 1916 to create Metro Pictures Corporation, a talent booking agency, in New York City. … Read More
1922 37 Years Old In late 1922, Mayer was introduced to Irving Thalberg, then working for Universal Pictures. … Read More


1925 40 Years Old Jackie Coogan, then 11, marked the studio's debut using child stars with his role in The Rag Man in 1925. … Read More
1932 48 Years Old Although they initially got along well, their relationship frayed over philosophical differences. Thalberg preferred literary works over the crowd-pleasers Mayer wanted. He ousted Thalberg as production chief in 1932, while Thalberg was recovering from a heart attack, and replaced him with producer David O. Selznick. … Read More


1938 54 Years Old …  Nevertheless, MGM produced Three Comrades in 1938, despite movie censor Joseph Breen warning Mayer that the film was "a serious indictment of the German nation and people and is certain to be violently resented by the present government in that country."
1939 55 Years Old 1 More Event
After the war erupted in Europe in September 1939, Mayer authorized the production of two anti-Nazi films, The Mortal Storm and Escape. … Read More
1942 58 Years Old 1 More Event
Mrs. Miniver won six Academy Awards and became the top box office hit of 1942. … Read More
1943 59 Years Old The following year, 1943, saw the release of another Oscar-winning film, this one aimed at supporting the home front, entitled The Human Comedy.


1947 63 Years Old …  Eventually Mayer sold off the stable, partly to finance his divorce in 1947. … Read More
1948 64 Years Old 1 More Event
In the interim, Mayer kept making "big pictures." When RKO turned down financing of Frank Capra's State of the Union in 1948 because of its expensive budget, Mayer took on the project. … Read More
He was forced to resign MGM as its vice president in 1951, when the studio's parent company, Loew's, Inc., wanted to improve MGM's declining profits. … Read More
1952 68 Years Old Mayer, for a period after he left MGM, tried to finance and assemble a new group of film stars and directors to produce his own films as an independent. He told the press that his films would carry on in the tradition of MGM's previous style of film subjects In 1952 he became chairman of the board and the single largest shareholder in Cinerama, and had hoped to produce a property he owned, Paint Your Wagon, in the widescreen process, but without success.
1954 70 Years Old He left Cinerama in 1954 when the company was sold. … Read More
1957 73 Years Old 1 More Event
At Mayer's funeral in 1957, Spencer Tracy expressed Mayer's ambitions: … Read More
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