The MGM Birthday Photo, 1943


MGM: More stars than there are in heaven

In 1943 Louis B. Mayer gathered all of his stars for a group photo to celebrate the MGM’s 20th birthday. The photo appeared in Life Magazine on September 27th. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer liked to boast that it had “more stars than there are in heaven.” Mayer was the most powerful mogul in Hollywood, and the highest-paid man in the United States. He ruled the studio with an iron fist, punishing actors who crossed him by refusing to loan them to other studios or deliberately putting them in stinkers. When Clark Gable once asked for a raise, Mayer refused and threatened to tell Gable’s wife about his affair with Joan Crawford. Mickey Rooney was one of his favourites, and the Andy Hardy series realised Mayer’s sentimental view of a wholesome Middle America. Gable is absent from the photo as in 1943 he was flying bombing missions with the Air Force.

Front Row:
James Stewart (in uniform: like Gable, he also served during WW2), Margaret Sullavan, Lucille Ball, Hedy Lamarr, Katharine Hepburn, Louis B Mayer, Greer Garson, Irene Dunne, Susan Peters, Ginny Simms, Lionel Barrymore

Second Row:
Harry James, Brian Donlevy, Red Skelton, Mickey Rooney, William Powell, Wallace Beery, Spencer Tracy, Walter Pidgeon, Robert Taylor, Pierre Aumont, Lewis Stone, Gene Kelly, Jackie Jenkins

Third Row:
Tommy Dorsey, George Murphy, Jean Rogers, James Craig, Donna Reed, Van Johnson, Fay Bainter, Marsha Hunt, Ruth Hussey, Marjorie Main, Robert Benchley

Fourth Row:
Dame May Whitty, Reginald Owen, Keenan Wynn, Diana Lewis, Marilyn Maxwell, Esther Williams, Ann Richards, Marta Linden, Lee Bowman, Richard Carlson, Mary Astor

Fifth Row:
Blanche Ring, Sara Haden, Fay Holden, Bert Lahr, Frances Gifford, June Allyson, Richard Whorf, Frances Rafferty, Spring Byington, Connie Gilchrist, Gladys Cooper

Sixth Row:
Ben Blue, Chill Wills, Keye Luke, Barry Nelson, Desi Arnaz, Henry O’Neill, Bob Crosby, Rags Ragland

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