Louis Burt Mayer (originally named Lazar Meir) and become a billionaire through American film production. He was born in Minsk in Russia in 1884; however no one knows the exact date. A mayor chose his birth date to be 4th July when he became an American citizen, to honour the country.
Along with his family he moved to Saint John in Brunswick, Canada when he was young. He went to school here and in 1904 when he was 19 he moved to Boston and got married. Here he worked in the scrap metal business. When business was slow he took on various odd jobs to support his family.
In 1907 the “Gem Theatre” which he had renovated was reopened as the “Orpheum” which was his first movie theatre. The first film he showed there was a religious film to help the reputation of the building in the community as it had once been a burlesque house. After a few years had passed he owned the five Haverhill theatres and went into business with Nathan H. Gordon which was the start of the Gordon-Mayer partnership, who went on to manage the biggest chain of theatres in New England.
Together in Boston they organised their own film distribution agency in 1914. In 1915 they paid $25,000 for the exclusive rights to show the film “The Birth of a Nation” in New England and managed to get $100,000 in net profit. In 1916 in New York City, Metro Pictures Corporation was created along with Richard A. Rowland which was a talent booking agency. Two years on Mayer moved to Los Angeles and formed his own production company which was called Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation. In 1918 he produced the film “Virtuous Wives”. After this he set up the Mayer-Schulberg studio along with B.P Schulberg.
In 1924 Metro Pictures and Mayer Pictures were merged with Goldwyn Pictures by Marcus Loew, and the company was known as MGM. Mayer was “Vice-President in Charge of Production” and in essentially managed the company for the 27 years to follow.
In 1936 he became head of studio production as well as being the studio chief. He made the company the most successful motion picture studio on the globe over the years he worked there, producing crowd pleasing films with many highly paid stars in them.
In 1951 he was fired as the company began to drop in success due to the introduction of television and because what the public wanted was shifting. On 29th October 1957 he died of leukaemia.