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saint john's movie maven inducted


Toronto, June 23  2004 - His ability to ‘handle’ people has been the subject of many an insider conversation. A true titan of big business, he achieved the rarest of status; that of being a legend during his lifetime.


Now, he is posthumously inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in downtown Toronto; permanently enshrined and remembered in the country where he arrived as a toddler and grew to form his earliest opinions about how to handle people, life and business.


"He" is longtime Saint John resident Louis B. Mayer, co-founder of Hollywood's juggernaut studio, Metro Goldwyn Mayer. 


Brilliant strategist. Bitingly shrewd and skilful negotiator. Wildly successful filmmaker. Highest paid executive in America.


Peter Soumalias, CEO and Co-creator of the Walk of Fame, offers a simple, direct testimony on why Mayer is honoured, saying, “Hundreds of nominations urging us to induct Louis B. Mayer have been received, from both inside and outside the country. Canadians are, and have always been, at the forefront of developing the entertainment industry. They’ve been pioneers, and Louis B. Mayer is a good example of that.”


Indeed. Mayer grew up in Saint John, cutting his business teeth alongside his father, in the chippy, tough world of scrap metal. As a young adult, he decided to carve out his fortune in America. By finessing his skills on a series of film related ventures that began in the Boston area, he unwittingly prepared himself for his life’s greatest challenge and coup, the eventual formation and operation of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, one of the world’s most successful and recognizable companies. Its logo – a roaring lion – to this day majestically reigns over the company he and his business partners founded in 1924.     


Mayer single-handedly charted everyone’s course during Hollywood's golden age and beyond, guiding movie makers, moguls and silver screen acting legends alike with his deft mind and incalculably important gift for understanding what people needed in order to succeed. 


He ran the sprawling 40-acre MGM Studios for 27 years. Occupying six sound stages, it was the home of Hollywood's epic feature films. To ensure its continued success, he cultivated a heart palpitating roster of A-list actors during Hollywood's days of studio glory, including Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and the incomparable Greta Garbo. 


Ben Hur (1925), Dinner at Eight (1933), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Gone with the Wind (1939) were all films produced under Mayer’s leadership.


Because of his uncanny penchant for top people and projects, he achieved extraordinary success and was able to command an outrageous salary. He cracked an earnings ceiling in 1936, becoming the first business executive in the country to make $1 million per year. 


He helped found the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, planted the seed for the Oscars, and, in 1950, he was given a special Academy Award for "distinguished service to the motion picture industry."


Mayer died in Los Angeles in October 1957, and was interred there. His mother, Sara, rests in Saint John where she continued to live, long past her son's relocation to the United States. Her finely constructed mausoleum stands guard over the gravesites of many of Saint John's most prominent Jewish families, in Shaarei Zedek cemetary.

Canada's Walk of Fame was established in 1998, after friends Dianne Schwalm , Peter Soumalias, and Bill Ballard shared the common thought that Canadians were a significant force on the international stage and deserved their own permanent, unique recognition at home. 


After requisite arrangements, The Walk was born in 19998, and unveiled on King Street, in the heart of Toronto's entertainment district. Fourteen were welcomed into its fold that year, each being honoured with an embedded and inscribed, granite star; each selected by a volunteer Board made up of Canada's entertainment and business elite.


Nominations for the Walk of Fame may be submitted by anyone at any time, via the internet. Last year, over 500,000 nominations were received, of which a surprising 100,000 were generated by people outside Canada. 


For a complete list and background on the 2004 inductees, please visit www.canadaswalkoffame.com/inductees/inductees_2004.xml





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