Making movie business history


MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: For this week in the History of Business, let's take a look into the Marketplace Vault. Today we find the "Golden" boy of Hollywood's heyday.

STACEY VANEK-SMITH: Louis B. Mayer grew up in Canada, helping out with his father's scrap metal business. In his late teens, he moved to Massachusetts. And this week back in 1907, he opened his first movie theater.

Within a few years, Mayer had the biggest theater chain in New England.

He sold the business to Marcus Loew in 1924. As part of that deal, Mayer became the head of a new film studio called Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

He's largely credited with turning MGM into the most financially successful movie studio in the world.

Mayer became the first U.S. executive to earn a million dollar salary, but by the late '40s, television was starting to take a bite out of studio profits and Mayer was eventually fired from the post he had held for nearly 25 years.

I'm Stacey Vanek-Smith.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.


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