Patrick O'Connor

Poor Boy makes Good in Boomtime USA

Merchant of Dreams: Louis B Mayer, MGM and the Secret Hollywood

By Charles Higham

Sidgwick & Jackson 488pp £20 order from our bookshop

In the 1920s, established as one of the most powerful movie studio bosses, Louis B Mayer proved to be as difficult with his family as he was with his errant starlets. Charles Higham, in this richly gossipy book, describes the ‘highly fraught’ family dinners over which Mayer senior presided. He would go over and over the qualities he expected from prospective suitors for his daughters, Edith and Irene. The boys they dated should be ‘handsome, clean-cut, athletic, college educated, preferably in the movie business and (a touch of the improbable) would be virgins’. Above all he forbade them to have anything to do with the Selznick boys. Irene promptly set out to win David O Selznick.

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