Monday, May 30, 2011

Irving Thalberg, 1899-1936

Nobody called her Norma Thalberg
Irving Thalberg (r.) with wife Norma Shearer

Today marks the birth anniversary of one of the more important behind the scenes figures in Hollywood history, MGM producer Irving Thalberg. Thalberg started his career at Universal before going to MGM and becoming the chief of production there who seemed to have a knack for what the people wanted. One example (I think taken from TCM's documentary Irving Thalberg: Prince of Hollywood) is that it was Thalberg who had the idea of having Wallace Beery die at the end of The Champ.

A good recounting of MGM's founding in a merger can be found at, including a photo of Thalberg not only with Shearer, but Louis B. Mayer as well. As is fairly well known, Thalberg was sickly from youth and had a heart problem which is what ultimately caused his untimely death at the age of 37. Thalberg was known for not having his name put in the credits of the movies he produced. It was only when Thalberg died that MGM dedicated his last film, The Good Earth, to his memory.

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