As talk heats up about the nominees for the Golden Globe and Oscar awards, it seems timely that Mass Moments remind us of the early days of a famous Hollywood movie mogel Louis B. Meyer. The roots of his success can be found here in the Merrimack Valley – in Haverhill. Long captivated by the entertainment business, Meyer purchased the Gem, a burlesque theater in Haverhill. He saw potential audience in the milltown and converted the hall into the Orpheum, an elegantly refurbished theater devoted to “high-class films.” He advertised the Orpheum as “Havehill’s Home of Refined Amusement” and promised “clean, wholesome, healthy amusement, no waits, no delays” and invited people to “come and laugh — laugh hearty.” He branched out to other working-class Massachusetts towns such as Lynn, Brockton and Lowell – before long, Louis B. Mayer owned theaters all over New England. By 1919 he moved his family and his business to Hollywood – the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio was born – the rest is movieland history!
On this day…
…in 1918, Louis B. Mayer traveled from his Boston office to New York City for the premiere of his first movie release, the silent film Virtuous Wives. A decade earlier, Mayer had opened his first movie theater in Haverhill, which he quickly built into one of the earliest and the largest theater chains in New England. He soon branched into movie distribution, and with his growing fortune, the former Chelsea scrap metal dealer moved his family from their Haverhill apartment to a Brookline estate. But Mayer’s dream was to make his own movies. Virtuous Wives marked his entrance into movie production, and his exit from Massachusetts. Within months, he had moved to Hollywood, where Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer would soon become one of the world’s leading motion picture studios.
Read the full article here at MassMoments.com.
A side note with a Lowell connection:
Lowell’s own Bette Davis was under contract to M-G-M at one time – as were: Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Fred Astaire & Giner Rogers, Gene Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Jean Harlow, Laurel & Hardy,Ester Williams, Buster Keaton, Greta Garbo, Red Skelton, Jimmy Durante, Donna Reed, Lana Turner, Robert Young, Jane Powell, Margaret O’Brien, Peter Lawford, Joan Crawford, Angela Lansbury, Lionel Barrymore and many more. Two of M-G-M’s stars, Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn are among the winning-est in the annual Oscars race – Hepburn with 12 nominations and 4 Oscars, Tracy with 9 nominations and 2 Oscars and then there’s Bette Davis with 10 nominations and 2 Oscars.
The next Oscar presentations are scheduled for February 26, 2012! Remember “The Fighter” shout-outs to Lowell last year from Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Mark Wahlberg? Great fun and great PR!