Happy Birthday Louis B. Mayer

Louis B. Mayer with granddaughter.

Louis B. Mayer with granddaughter.

Happy Birthday to my great-uncle Louis B. Mayer. Co-founder MGM Studios, the MPAA, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, MPDAA, funder of spies to infiltrate American pro-Nazi groups, family man, Saint Johnner.

He was the eldest son of Sarah (nee Meltzer) and Jacob Meier (later Mayer); the father of Edie and Irene; husband to Margaret (1904-1947) and of Lorena Layson (1948-1957 at his death), and stepfather of Suzanne (who he adopted). Younger brother to Yetta and Irene, and older brother to Ruben and Gershon. He was grandfather to Barbara and Judy Goetz, and Danny and Jeffrey Selznick.

He was tough, he was visionary, he was emotional. He was proud to be an American citizen. He created the finest studio in the land and stellar careers for hundreds of people and together they all left a legacy of thousands of wonderful films. He appointed Ruth Harriet Louise, the first female head of MGM’s photographic studio and would remain the only female head of ANY major studio; appointed Ruth Mathis as the first female executive, who made Valentino’s career and was at one point the highest paid of any studio exec; his own physician was a woman – Dr Jessie Marmorston and he held her in the highest esteem. He was best friend to director Clarence Brown and my great-grandmother Ida Mayer Cummings, who he supported.

Sarah Myers (became Mayer) with her five children - Yetta, Ida, Louis, Rubin and Jeremiah. Location and date unknown.

Sarah with her five children – Yetta, Ida, Louis, Rubin and Gershon. Most likely Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, 1890s.

His family fled the pogroms of Russia and Belarus. He experienced poverty and hunger. He lived through the Spanish Flu, WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. He experienced anti-Semitism and discrimination. He gave heavily to charity (including the LA Jewish Home for the Aged to ensure the elderly lived their last years in dignity and comfort), to the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, and to his community. He loved horses and had one of the finest Thoroughbred stables in the US. He was deeply loyal – if you had helped him as a child and/or as a young man, he would support you for life. For most, he was ‘Mr. Mayer’ and for some, he was that son of a bitch.

As time and film historians and biographers like Scott Eyman and Eve Golden and others have shown, he didn’t ‘drug’ Judy Garland (he loved her like his own child) or kill John Gilbert’s career (he managed that himself). Yes, he probably hated the Marx Bros. Yes, Luise Rainer, who came from an upper class European Jewish family thought he was beneath her and couldn’t stand him and expected more from the studio after her Oscar. Yes, his daughter Irene was best friends with Katharine Hepburn and she thought he was swell and they both loved a day at the races.

So on July 12th, think about what Louis B. Mayer achieved from the young kid who dove into the frigid waters of Saint John, New Brunswick for scrap metal to help support his family, through to the man who helped create Hollywood and a multi-million dollar business that supported thousands of American families and those in overseas MGM offices, and give him his due.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Louis!

WATCH: World First Film Preservation and Restoration Summit TODAY

Friends Lovers Enemies WatermarkAlicia Mayer will host the inaugural Film Preservation and Restoration Summit as a Google+ Hangout on Air, with a panel of esteemed experts on the topic, who will showcase the delicate, rare and valuable films they are seeking to preserve and restore. The goal of this free event is simple: to increase public awareness of this vital element of our cultural heritage.

The event will be streamed live ON SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 2nd AT 3PM PST (two hours from now.)

Click here to go to the event page to watch the program – the video will go live at the appointed time.

NEWSFLASH: The following guests are now confirmed:

  1. Jan-Christopher Horak, director of UCLA Film & Television Archive; Academy Film Scholar; author of numerous books, including Saul Bass: Anatomy of Film Design
  2. Theodore E. Gluck, director, Library Restoration and Preservation, The Walt Disney Studios
  3. Ron Hutchinson, leader of the Vitaphone Project
  4. Ned Thanhouser, president at Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.
  5. Elena Rossi-Snook: archivist, Reserve Film and Video Collection, The New York Public Library; board member, Association of Moving Image Archivists; chair, AMIA Film Advocacy Task Force
  6. Dino Everett, archivist, Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive at the University of Southern California.

Things Moving Fast!

Styling the Stars book and authors Angela Cartwright and Tom McLaren

Our guests on the next show are Angela Cartwright and Tom McLaren, co-authors of their magnificent new book Styling the Stars: Lost Treasures from the Twentieth Century Fox Archive.

My cohost Will McKinley and I have another great Hollywood Time Machine show at 6pm PST/9pm ET on www.LATalkRadio.com, just click on channel 2.

Please check out my main active site www.AliciaMayerShow.com to keep up to date and catch up on episodes you may have missed. Along with the live radio show, I’ve announced a series of live streaming events, including about film preservation and restoration (Sunday, November 2nd at 3pm PST), Hollywood’s glamour photographers and costumes in film during the Golden Age.

Hope to see you at my new site and welcome you as a listener and a viewer!

Guests Announced for Next Hollywood Time Machine Talk Radio Show

Dateline reporter Josh Mankiewicz

Josh Mankiewicz will be on Hollywood Time Machine.

With a fantastic first show under their belts, Alicia Mayer and her cohost Will McKinley are ready for the next episode of the Hollywood Time Machine talk radio show on Saturday, September 20th. And wow, what a line up!

  1. The term “Hollywood Royalty” is bandied about far too often, but Dateline reporter Josh Mankiewicz truly comes from one of classic Hollywood’s most esteemed families. We will talk about the huge contribution the Mankiewiczs have made to film-making, journalism, politics and more.
  2. Christina Rice, author of Ann Dvorak: Hollywood’s Forgotten Rebel, has written the first full-length biography of an often-overlooked actress. Her book explores the life and career of one of the first individuals who dared to challenge the studio system. Christina has generously provided this week’s amazing two give-aways. Listen to win!

    Ann Dvorak bio Christina Rice

    Listen live to win this wonderful biography!

  3. Can’t make it to the San Francisco Silent Film Festival? Silent film historian, Mary Mallory, will be there and will file her report fresh from attending the swanky VIP reception and before heading into the first film!
  4. What do you when there are 365 days until the next TCM Classic Film Festival? If you’re film publicist and classic Hollywood fan Kelly Kitchens, you create a Facebook group to support your fellow fanatics. Going to the TCM Classic Film Festival is a fun and fast-growing group for anyone who has been, or aspires to attend, the world’s biggest classic film festival.
  5. This week, two of our most beloved television shows turn 50! Bewitched and The Addams Family are as iconic as they get and our guest, classic TV historian and author Terence Towles Canote, will help us celebrate these silver anniversaries in style!

To listen live: Go to http://www.LATalkRadio.com (channel 2) at 6pm PST/9pm EST! Google LA Talk Radio to download their Apple or Android apps.

Facebook: For announcements, give-aways, rare photos and more, join the Hollywood Time Machine Talk Radio Show community on Facebook.

Twitter: @RealAliciaMayer @WillMcKinley @Kelly_Wick @mercurie80 @JoshMankiewicz @ChristinaRice

Hollywood Time Machine with Alicia Mayer LIVE at 6pm PST!

Alicia Mayer and Hollywood Time Machine

Join us at 6pm PST on http://www.LATalkRadio.com – show will be streaming live.

The first episode of Hollywood Time Machine talk radio show, hosted by Alicia Mayer and cohosted by Will McKinley, is broadcast today at 6pm PST/9pm EST. To tune in just go to www.LATalkRadio.com and the show will be streaming live on the website. Our guests have been announced:

  • Paula Guthat of #TCMParty
  • Victoria Wilson, author of A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True, 1907-1940
  • Cassandra Majors of Classic TV Lovers Haven on Facebook
  • Susan King, the Los Angeles Times’ classic Hollywood maven
  • Steve Anderson of Santana Films and representing the Humphrey Bogart Estate.

To go in the running to win a SIGNED copy of Vicky Wilson’s book and one of three digital passes to Santana Films new noir movie, please join the Hollywood Time Machine Talk Radio Show Facebook page. Please also book mark http://www.AliciaMayerShow.com and visit for more information regarding our guests and use #timemachine when tweeting. Thanks!

Alicia Mayer to host new talk radio show “Hollywood Time Machine”

Alicia Mayer Hollywood Time Machine

New talk radio show Hollywood Time Machine

If there’s one thing that fans of silent movies, classic Hollywood, TV and radio always say it’s: “If only I could go back in time!” With my new talk radio show, Hollywood Time Machine (#timemachine), you will be transported back in time with each episode. I will interview our living legends, biographers, historians, museum curators/archivists, collectors, bloggers, film festival programmers, founders/admins of major Facebook groups and Twitter community hosts, and more.

Of course, this show will be built on listener involvement so that we can all share our love of these films, TV and radio shows, as well as the moguls, directors, writers, producers, stars and more, who made each era so memorable.

Hollywood Time Machine will be broadcast via an online radio station based in LA and the time slot will hopefully ensure that people across most time zones can take part. I will be directly involving several popular Facebook groups and aiming for live interaction with each show. And competitions – we all love freebies!

So, please standby! More detail coming soon!

Happy 130th Birthday Louis B. Mayer

Guideposts magazine February 1951 front cover

The February, 1951 issue of Guideposts magazine featuring Louis B. Mayer and his article, “The Echo.”

“A simple rule, but to me it has been a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.”

Louis B. Mayer in His Own Words

Many of you won’t be surprised to learn that just in time for my great-uncle’s 130th birthday, he reached out to ensure his own words could be heard, instead of merely the volumes that have been written about him, true and otherwise, since his death in 1957.

Two days ago, and completely out of the blue, I was contacted by Brett Leveridge of Guideposts magazine offering to share with me the inspirational article L.B. wrote for the February 1951 issue. In case you aren’t familiar with it, Guideposts was established by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale (most notably the author of The Power of Positive Thinking and If You Think You Can You Can)  in 1945 to provide inspiration to the returned servicemen of WWII but found, instead, that their most avid readers were women, especially in the midwest and south. Although they initially missed their target audience, nearly 70 years later, Guideposts is still going strong – as is Dr. Peale’s positive thinking message.

As you can imagine, I was stunned and delighted and when I told Brett that the next day would be Louis’ birthday, he was shocked. So I am thrilled to share this article with you, as well as the front cover of that very issue. But first, some context because you may find this story a bit over-sweet but it is important to note that for my great-uncle, his mother represented the very pinnacle, not only of womanhood, but of love. And of course, in Jewish culture, the mother of the family is the young child’s steward into higher ideals, and certainly in his generation, the mother’s role would have been deliberately focused on the religious directive to “Know Him in all your ways,” meaning to also see God in the mundane and every day life.

Tragically, L.B.’s mother would never see his success: Sarah Mayer died in Saint John, New Brunswick from complications of gall bladder surgery in October, 1913. Her death was his greatest sadness.

It is well known that Louis B. Mayer had no more than an elementary school education, so we can assume that these words below were dictated to his secretary Ida Koverman and she polished the final article and the magazine’s editor did the rest. Or, he may even had worked with one of MGM’s greatest writing talents to take his childhood experience, his thoughts about how it had shaped his life and his desire to share his story as a guiding principle for anyone willing to listen and learn.

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