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Louis Burt Mayer (4 July 1884 – 29 October 1957), born Lazar Meir, was the head of the MGM movie studio during Hollywood's Golden Age. One of the most powerful executives in the history of the movies, he was ultimately in charge of the making of the studio's 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.
His official title at MGM was Vic-President in Charge of Production, which did not quite reflect his status as the effective head and final arbiter of the studio's moviemaking activities.
In 1937, Mayer began negotiating with Warner Brothers' producer/director Mervyn LeRoy; Mayer was looking for a replacement for production head Irving Thalberg, who died in 1936. LeRoy was formally hired in February 1938; early on, he expressed interest in making a new movie version of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. At the same general time, lyricist Arthur Freed wanted to move into production; and he too was interested in Baum's classic novel. Mayer decided that LeRoy would produce the new film, with the neophyte Freed as his assistant.
- John Fricke, Jay Scarfone, William Stillman. The Wizard of Oz: The Official 50th Anniversary Pictorial History. Warner Books, 1989.