Louis B. Mayer
One of the legendary moguls of Hollywood's Golden Age, Louis B. Mayer rose from the immigrant son of a junkman to the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer beginning with the company's inception in 1924 to his ouster in 1951. It was Mayer who helped to establish the studio's reputation as a glamorous dream factory on the strength of lavish epics and musicals like "Ben-Hur" (1925), "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) and "Gone with the Wind" (1939), and for much of the Depression, audiences queued up to relieve their worries with one of Mayer's lush, family-friendly visions. Changing audience tastes and rampant production costs helped to unseat him in the early 1950s, which in turn signaled the beginning of the end of Old Hollywood's studio system. But in the decades following his death, Mayer's "beautiful pictures," as he liked to call them, endured as glimmering symbols of a period in Hollywood history where a studio could claim, in Mayer's words, to host "more stars than there are in heaven."