Forgive me as this post is based on a series of tweets I made earlier today. Thank you again if you reached out to me at that time. I have decided to make a more formal statement as well:
Parallels are being drawn between Harvey Weinstein and my great uncle Louis B. Mayer. In fact, this morning I woke to this headline from the Telegraph: “Louis B. Mayer, The Monster of MGM.”
These accusations are utterly wrong and just as importantly, I would not support him if they were right. Award-winning biographer Scott Eyman spent years researching Louis B. Mayer for his book Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer. He was NOT a sexual predator. He did not use the casting couch.
These myths come right out of the gutter. Joan Crawford set the record straight decades ago:
“…at Metro we were lucky because Louis B. didn’t believe in the casting couch routine… Mayer decided that his stars should be totally immune to the temptations of sex, alcohol, gambling, fast driving, drugs, flying, profanity, etc… He may have been a tyrant at times, but he taught me discipline, and he made me feel that I could be a star, and he made me act like a star.”
And regarding Judy Garland, it was my understanding that she had later rescinded her accusations about Louis B. Mayer, saying that she regretted them deeply, that he had cared for her as his own child. And we can completely dismiss out of hand the notion that he ‘fed her pills.’ Hollywood in the 30s, 40s and 50s, like the rest of America, was awash with dieting pills and every other manner of hopeful new medicines and treatments. M-G-M had its own doctors, who would have genuinely thought they were on the cutting edge of prescription medicines and that there were aThere was never anything insidious about her treatment by Louis B. Mayer personally, or the studio. I have reached out to her daughter, Lorna Luft, and hope to hear from her directly on all of this.
And Joan Collins and the recently reported claim that she didn’t get the part in CLEOPATRA because she wouldn’t sleep with Louis B. Mayer? That film was released in 1963, and by 20th Century Fox. My great uncle died in 1957 and was ousted from M-G-M in 1951. I don’t know who Joan Collins was accusing of this predatory behavior but it couldn’t have been Louis B. Mayer.
I am sickened by Weinstein, as we all should be, but I also wish people knew their history. Louis B. Mayer simply does not deserve his stink. Sadly, after 20+ years of marriage, L.B. had affairs, which cannot be condoned. But to call him a sexual predator, to put him in the same tweets, posts, headlines and articles as Harvey Weinstein is wrong, libelous. It’s lazy journalism too.
I, sadly, like other women, have been raped and sexually harrassed. I would not stand by any relative who had inflicted that pain on others. I was raped at 14 and sexually harrassed as recently as just a few years ago. I had to leave a role I really loved because of it.
Things must change. But Hollywood has a problem that frankly every industry has. It’s a worldwide issue that crosses cultural boundaries. The uproar after Cosby and now Weinstein shows there is no longer a willingness to turn the other cheek. I dearly hope we are seeing true and lasting change.
What is also tragic about these slanderous headlines, equating Louis B. Mayer to Weinstein, is that L.B.’s love for his mother Sarah deeply influenced how he treated women. One of his closest friends and advisers was a woman lawyer, his own doctor was a woman, and there were women in leadership roles at M-G-M from very early on. Probably his closest friend was my great-grandmother, Ida Mayer Cummings, and he was happy to conspire behind the scenes with the Queen of Hollywood, Mary Pickford, to fundraise for good causes.
The fact is, Louis B. Mayer held women in high esteem and expected others to do so too.
I think it’s important to remember that while on the one hand we have a media desperately trying to call out lies and ‘alternative truths,’ we also have journalists who appear to believe anything they’ve read on the internet at least twice.
And with my earlier tweets and this post, I’ve laid my heart bare and have now also added my story to the collective cry that includes many, many other women. Perhaps it will help. I hope it will.
I know my happy life will go on. The sun will come up tomorrow, regardless. And hopefully we are changing the world for the better.
Thanks for reading. I am fine. Group hug!
Copyright 2017 Alicia Mayer. All rights reserved.