1001 W 75TH ST. WOODRIDGE, IL 630-427-1880

Hollywood Memorial

Irving Thalberg

Louis B. Mayer hired a film genius, Thalberg away from Universal as the head of production for the newly formed studio of MGM. It wasn’t long before MGM was the most powerful and productive studio in the United States, and every single movie made at MGM between 1924 and 1932 was made under Thalberg’s guidance. He also grabbed up the Marx Brothers when they were dropped by Paramount, after the now classic ‘Duck Soup’ was a box office disaster, and brought them back to the top. He tracked down Norma Shearer after seeing her in a 1920 film and signed her to a screen contract at MGM and married her in 1927. She was a very popular leading lady at MGM and one of the studio’s biggest stars while they became one of Hollywood’s power couples. She won an Academy award for her performance in the 1930 film ‘The Divorcee’. He was also one of the thirty-six founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. On Christmas 1932, Thalberg suffered a heart attack. While he and Norma were away in Europe, hoping this break from work might improve his health, Mayer brought his son-in-law David O. Selznick to the studio as an independent producer and sent Thalberg a telegram informing him that his position, Head of Production, no longer existed. On Labor Day weekend in 1936, Thalberg caught a cold, which swiftly turned into pneumonia and then a coma and he died at the age of thirty-seven and all of Hollywood shut down for five minutes of silence on the day of his funeral. His weak heart had finally permanently given out. Norma retired from films in the early 1940’s and later married a ski instructor named Martin Arrouge who was twenty years younger. She was buried with Thalberg when she died 47 years later interred in the Great Mausoleum at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Glendale, California. The Academy gives out the ‘Irving Thalberg’ award at every Oscar ceremony for’Creative producers, whose bodies of work reflect a consistently high quality of motion picture production.’