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LOH: Louis B. Mayer   City History

Started May-21 by HCForum; 128 views.
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From: HCForum

May-21

Legends Of Haverhill

Louis B. Mayer

This is the first in what I hope is many threads devoted to some of our more accomplished citizens who either became famous or influential in other ways. Haverhill has had a number of citizens who have gone on to great things, both from our past and in more modern times. We will begin with a look back on the life and career of Hollywood mogul Louis B. Mayer. He is best known for his role in the creation of MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

Louis B. Mayer was born in Vilna, Imperial Russia, a land now known as Lithuania. His rise to prominence began with his purchase of movie theaters (many run down and needing renovations). The first of these was an old burlesque club in Haverhill that he renovated in 1907. This was an experimental time for him and he discovered that creating more full-length stories brought in a bigger audience. He would refine this and improve upon as he continued to open up other theaters in the Boston area.

From http://www.hollywoodsgoldenage.com/moguls/mayer.html :

Mayer was young, energetic and ambitious and he began to look round for opportunities outside the junk business. He discovered the embryonic movie industry and shrewdly purchased a run down burlesque theater in Haverhill, Massachusetts, which he renovated and reopened in 1907 as a movie theater. He began by alternating live shows with the latest motion pictures and he was astute enough to recognise that it was the fast-paced, modern movies, not old fashioned short song and dance fillers, that were drawing the crowds.

His ultimate success as part of MGM would begin in 1924, when his company Louis B. Mayer Pictures was bought by Irving Thalberg which he merged in with his Metro-Goldwyn company. At Mayer's request the company's name was changed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. During this stretch Mayer was associated with and responsible for the careers of a number of famous actors of the day. MGM began with Ben-Hur as one of their early successes.

With the growth of MGM, Mayer found himself loved by some but also hated by others, both the actors working under him and the executives above him. He was remembered as something of polarizing figure during his reign and was eventually fired after many tumultuous years in 1951.

He died in 1957 from leukemia.

Us locals often associate Mayer with Haverhill, but from all the stuff I read about him it seems he was really just passing through, as his stay here was rather brief. If you have any recollections or knowledge about Mayer's history please feel free to share it here whether as part of this thread or in a separate thread if you like.

I'll be following up with some links to sites with further information about Louis B. Mayer and his Haverhill years. This is where I've gotten most of the information provided here (trust me, I'm not and expert on the history of Mr. Mayer), so check them out!

  • Edited July 26, 2017 1:42 am  by  HCForum
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May-21

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May-21

This Wikipedia entry for Mayer seems pretty extensive:

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May-21

There is a picture of the Paramount in Haverhill and lists it as being at 31 Main Street in Haverhill? I'm curious where it actually sat and what's in it's place today. I ask because I'm sure the urban renewal phase completely convoluted things. Look up 31 Main Street on Google and it  shows the Basilleire bridge in Bradford. I'm pretty sure they didn't sit the theater in the middle of the Merrrimack River. :-)

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