Adherents.com Home Page

< Return to Adherents.com's Guide to Movies
< Return to Famous Jews

The Religious Affiliation of Movie Producer
Louis B. Mayer


From: Gerald Clarke.
Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland, Dell Publishing: New York, NY (2000), pages 132-133:
Glorious as they were--blond, brunette or redheaded--Metro's glamour queens were all of a certain type... Wherever they came from, the United States, Canada or Europe, they all looked the way Louis B. Mayer, a Jew born in Russia and reared in Canada, imagined American women should look: fair-cheeked and vaguely Anglo-Saxon, with roots that seemed to extend all the way back to the Mayflower. Excluded from Mayer's platonic conception was anyone who appearted at all "ethnic," which in those days meant southern European or Jewish. A studio that was run almost entirely by Jews, as most of the Hollywood studios were, was thus, incongruously enough, perhaps the world's most artful purveyor of the myth that only Gentiles could be beautiful. Even more incongruous was the fact that, no matter how handsome they might have been, none of the women in Louis B. Mayer's own family could have been employed as a leading lady in a studio he controlled.
From: Luke Ford, "Hollywood Jews", on LukeFord.net website (http://www.lukeford.net/essays/contents/Hollywood_Jews.htm; viewed 8 September 2005):
Jews invented Hollywood. While Thomas Edison invented the motion picture camera, immigrant Jewish entrepreneurs (like Sam Goldwyn, Jack and Harry Warner, Louis B. Mayer) created Hollywood...

It should first be said that there is nothing remotely surprising about all this. As Neal Gabler clearly demonstrated in his acclaimed book, An Empire of Their Own, How the Jews Invented Hollywood, the early Jewish movie pioneers such as Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg (Fitzgerald's model for The Last Tycoon) who founded the studios of today came to Hollywood because they felt barred from power in the east.

Although fiercely competitive, the Hollywood Jews worked closely together to build a close-knit empire that shamelessly imitated the social hierarchy of the very East Coast society that they felt alienated and patronized them.

'If the Jews were proscribed from entering the real corridors of gentility and status in America, the movies offered an ingenious option,' wrote Gabler. 'Within the studios and on the screen, the Jews could simply create a new countryone where they would not only be admitted, but would govern as well.'

...The important thing about New Establishment power in America is that it is exercised corporately. What is wholly new about today's generation of moguls is that they have made a radical social departure from their Jewish forebears. The likes of Mayer, Cohen, Selznick and Thalberg headed west at a time when the entertainment business was regarded as disreputable, and they went to extreme lengths in their quest for social respectability.

Louis Mayer comically attempted to live like a 19th-century aristocrat, forcing his daughter to have riding lessons every day. He himself joined the Griffith Park Riding Academy and even very nearly converted to Catholicism.

The movie Jews joined the Hollywood Polo and Riding Club in droves; they paid their expensive dues at the West Hills Hunt Club with its own pack of Irish foxhounds, whose (mostly Jewish) members still gallop every Saturday in season around the hills around Los Angeles in sunglasses and full British hunting gear. The idea of 'New Establishment' players like David Geffen (who refuses to wear a suit), Mike Ovitz or Steven Spielberg dressing up in a tail-coat to go fox-hunting is ludicrous. Now that they are the Power Elite, they view the creaky East Coast Wasp institutions and such reserves as the LA Country Club (which still proudly excludes Jews and showbiz types') as anachronistic jokes. Whilst Louis Mayer would have been trying everything to get a photograph of himself shaking hands with Prince Charles during his three-day visit (or escape) to LA, today's breed of super-mogul couldn't care less.

From: Axel Madsen. Stanwyck, HarperCollins: New York, NY (1994), page 153:
Louis B. [Mayer] came to London... An elaborate press luncheon at the Savoy was arranged... Graham Greene was present... Mayer, Green observed, spoke for forty minutes:

"...Mr. Mayer is talking about his family and God again . . . For forty minutes, we have listened to the voice of American capital itself: a touch of religion, a touch of family, the mixture goes down smoothly."

From: Bruce Eder, "Darryl F Zanuck Biography" in All Movie Guide (http://movies.yahoo.com/shop?d=hc&id=1800015361&cf=biog):
Zanuck also discovered an odd advantage that he had over many of his rival studio chiefs, deriving from the fact that he was American-born and a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. Where men like Louis B. Mayer and Samuel Goldwyn, as Jewish immigrants from Europe ever mindful of their uncertain acceptance in America, were unwilling to call attention to their own religious and ethnic backgrounds, and especially avoided Jewish subject matter, it was Zanuck, a Protestant born in Nebraska, who saw that the time was right to make Gentleman's Agreement (1947), which addressed anti-Semitism directly for the first time in a major Hollywood movie (and he produced it over the objections of every Jewish studio head in Hollywood).

From: Charles Higham,
Ava: A Life Story, Delacorte Press: New York, NY (1974), page 15:
...told by another star that there were "too many Jews overrunning the studio," [Louis B. Mayer] snapped back, "What do you think I am, a Hibernian?"
From: Lynn Haney, Gregory Peck: A Charmed Life, Carroll & Graf Publishers: New York, NY (2003), page 148:
Darryl Zanuck harbored a burning desire to make a breakthrough film. In the case of a movie about anti-Semitism, he had a personal reason to hand over $75,000 for the rights to Laura Z Hobson's best-selling novel on which the film was based. Although one of the few movie moguls who was not Jewish (insiders referred to Fox as the goy studio), he had an experience as a young man starting out in Hollywood in which he was the target of just the kind of anti-Semitism portrayed in the novel [that Zanuck made into the movie A Gentleman's Agreement].

When one works in the film industry, assumptions are made. How could Zanuck be in the same business as Zukor, Mayer, Cohn and Warner and not be Jewish? Yet, he clearly wasn't.

Search Adherents.com

Custom Search
comments powered by Disqus

Webpage created 1 June 2005. Last modified 8 September 2005.
We are always striving to increase the accuracy and usefulness of our website. We are happy to hear from you. Please submit questions, suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. to: webmaster@adherents.com.