IN THE editors’ confidence

How Crowther got the Mayer story

March 30 1957
IN THE editors’ confidence

How Crowther got the Mayer story

March 30 1957

IN THE editors’ confidence

How Crowther got the Mayer story

Bosley Crowther, who, as New York Times movie critic, sees as many motion pictures as any man, tells us that over the past five years he’s been seeing even more. In his history of Loew’s, Inc. and its Hollywood offspring, M-G-M (see pages 20 to 23), he mentions literally hundreds of old movies, starting with the experimental films made by Thomas Edison in the early 1890s. Crowther, a meticulous researcher, has done his best to look at most of them.

"I can tell you my eyes often misted up digging through some of the old material and talking to the great ones of other days,” he says.

Since he started on his project in 1952, Crowther has made three visits to Hollywood and talked to most of the greats and former greats of the industry. "Norma Shearer w'as an incalculable help, telling me much about herself and Irving Thalberg and making available letters and papers of his that she had never revealed before. Anita Stewart, Marshall Neilan, Carey Wilson, Ramon Novarro and many old-timers assisted me. And 1 had many extraordinary and revealing talks with Louis B. Mayer.” Crowther adds that he spent a wonderful afternoon with the great Theda Bara and her husband, Charles Brabin, shortly before he died.

Crowther finished his manuscript last summer and it is scheduled to appear later in the year in book form under the Dutton imprint. But “so many exciting and indeed significantly climactic things have been happening to the company since then that I have had to revise my last chapter.”

Crowther is referring, of course, to the emergence of Joseph Tomlinson as the key figure on the board of I^oew’s, Inc. Tomlinson, who controls a quarter million shares of the company was making preparations last December for a proxy battle within the directorate—and there were even rumors that Louis B. Mayer would be brought back to run the Hollywood studio. The proxy fight didn’t develop and Mayer stayed out, but the board has been reshuffled to include Tomlinson and some of his nominees.

Raised in northern Ontario, a graduate of the University of Manitoba, first a trader on the Winnipeg Grain Exchange and later a construction man in Ontario, Tomlinson does everything in a big way. His trucking business, for instance, a sort of sideline, is one of the biggest in Canada. And he’s got seven children, from the ages of two to nineteen. Like Louis Mayer before him (who in 1939 was granted an honorary degree in his native New Brunswick) Tomlinson still maintains his ties with Canada through his various firms, chief of which is Tomlinson Brothers, Toronto, the highway-construction firm of which he is president and general manager,