Courtesy of Library of Congress
Louis Mayer was born Lazar Meir in Minsk, in what was then the Russian Empire. Mayer immigrated with his family to Canada and then, alone, to Boston. In 1916, Mayer partnered with Richard Rowland to create a talent booking agency, Metro Pictures Corporation. Two years later, Mayer moved to Los Angeles and formed his own production company, Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation. The first production was Virtuous Wives (1918). Mayer's breakthrough came in April 1924, when Marcus Loew of the Loews Theatres chain merged Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation, and Mayer Pictures into Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Mayer controlled MGM for the next 27 years and built it into the most financially successful motion-picture studio in the world.