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Biographies Unit Biographies

Louis B. (L.B.) Mayer 1885?–1957
Hollywood Movie Producer

Louis Mayer immigrated to New York from Russia when he was a little boy. Movies were a new invention when he was growing up. In 1907, he bought an old dance hall near Boston and turned it into a movie theater. He used the money he earned from that theater to buy more theaters. Soon, he owned a chain of successful movie theaters.

In 1918, Mayer moved to Los Angeles to make movies. He helped start the Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer Company (MGM). Mayer, or L.B. as he was known, usually worked 13–hour days. MGM became a huge Hollywood studio that employed actors and movie crews and filmed movies. Mayer hired the biggest movie stars and made hundreds of movies, including The Wizard of Oz.

MGM was so successful that for a time Mayer's salary made him the highest-paid person in the United States. Mayer had so much power that he was both admired and feared by people. He led MGM for 27 years and is remembered today as one of the “founding fathers” of Hollywood.

Comprehension Check

Why did Mayer move to Los Angeles?

Critical Thinking

What character traits would you use to describe Louis Mayer? Explain your answer.