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

Hollywood Memorial

Louis B. Mayer

Top dog of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer from its inception until 1951, he was the mightiest of Hollywood moguls and at one point the highest paid executive in America. In 1924, exhibitor Marcus Loew, owner of Metro Pictures and Loews Theaters bought controlling interests in the Goldwyn and Mayer companies and merged them into the vast Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with Mayer in charge of West Coast operations and Thalberg as production head. Under Mayer’s leadership MGM became the most opulent of Hollywood studios, with ‘More stars than there are in heaven’ and the finest craftsman and technician’s money could buy. His ruthlessness made him many enemies but even his detractors acknowledged his organizational skills and knack for hiring and developing talent. Mayer’s greatest adversary, oddly enough, was his own boss, Nicholas Schenck, President (since 1927) of MGM’s parent company, Loews Inc. Their enmity dated from 1929 when Schenck secretly negotiated to sell Loews Theaters to rival producer William Fox; Mayer, who stood to lose his job, used his friends in the Hoover Administration to help kill the deal under anti-trust laws. The two men never forgave each other. Schenck depended on Mayer to run the production end but was wary of his popularity with the company’s shareholders, which he viewed as a threat to his own power. The death of Thalberg (a Schenck favorite) in 1936 only strengthened Mayer’s hold on the studio, and as long as MGM operated in the black – which it did for many years, even during the Depression – his position was unassailable. That position began to slip in the 1940s and he was eventually forced out. He died of leukemia at 72, an unhappy multimillionaire. Mayer was instrumental in founding the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1927; and the library of the American Film Institute was named for him. His daughter, Irene Mayer, married producer David O. Selznick. He is buried at Home of Peace Memorial Park in Los Angeles.