Short Biography of Louis B. Mayer
Known to work with such stars and Katherine Hepburn and Judy Garland, Louis Mayer was involved in most of the blockbuster films between 1924 and 1951. His mantra was to distribute family-friendly films that allowed the viewer to escape the real world. During the Great Depression, this was especially true as audiences longed to escape the hardships of daily life. However, with the advent of television in the home and the change in movie tastes with World War II, Mayer lost some of his customer base to other industries and was subsequently fired from his position of nearly 25 years.
Born in the former Soviet Union, his Jewish family moved to Canada and then to New York. His father and mother worked hard, and Mayer was determined to create his own business. In New York, he saw that entertainment was the best moneymaker around, so while in Massachusetts, he bought a small movie theater. He showed both family and comic renditions, but he knew that if he were able to make and distribute his own films, he would then be able to keep all the profits. Realistically, he knew this would take money and lucrative contracts to hire the best stars. Thanks to Nat Gordon’s financial help, he was able to buy up more and more arcades that he would refurbish into family-oriented movie houses.
With a firm grip on the making, distributing, and showing of films, Mayer knew his next stop was New York City. He didn’t like the types of films that Alco/Metro Films were producing, so he moved to Los Angeles and formed The Mayer Company after turning unbelievable profits from his first film called Birth of a Nation in 1915.
Louis Mayer’s success grew so rapidly that he merged with two of the top companies in the business, Metro and Goldwyn to form Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). The company soon released The Big Parade and Ben Hur, which were the most expensive movies ever made at the time. Liked by many who saw his flicks, including President Herbert Hoover, Mayer was able to control not only films but also politics in California. His pull, however, faded after World War II as his family-friendly films were not as popular as they had been ten years prior.