The greatest studio in the history of Hollywood was never really in Hollywood. The studios of Metro Goldwyn Mayer or M-G-M, were actually located in Culver City, which is about seven miles outside of Hollywood. Metro was an early film company, which belonged to Marcus Loew. Goldwyn came from producer Samuel Goldwyn and Mayer came from the producer Louis B. Mayer.
The studios were established in 1915 as Triangle Pictures. The studios became Metro Goldwyn Mayer in 1924, and the rest is Hollywood history. At the studios grand opening, Louis B. Mayer invited the president of the U.S.A., Calvin Coolidge and the famous performer, Will Rogers. Both of them came to the grand opening.
M-G-M was the most powerful studio in Hollywood, with its bright Technicolor style films, complete with lavish wardrobes, high priced sets, and a number of superstars. It was at these studios, that Judy Garland starred as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in 1939. In fact, the Yellow Brick Road is still inside of the lot on Stage 27.
This is the studio that gave us Leo the Lion as a trademark, the Tarzan adventures with Johnny Weissmuller and the Marx Brothers comedies. The Leo the Lion trademark was introduced in 1928, while the studio was still making silent movies. In the circular band framing Leo's head was the MGM motto: Ars Gratia Artis, which means Art for Art's Sake.
M-G-M had more stars at the studios than there were in the heavens. And it also seemed that way. The were stars like Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, Elizabeth Taylor, Laurel and Hardy, Greta Garbo, Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Paul Newman, and Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, who hold the world records for the most Oscars won by an actor and actress.
During its best years, the studio produced an average of one film a week. In 1939, M-G-M gave us two of the most beloved films in the history of Hollywood, Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz.
In 1959, the studio made Ben Hur with Charlton Heston, which won more Oscars than any other movie in Hollywood history. It won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture. Elvis Presley made many of his early films for MGM, including Jailhouse Rock.
However, the studios no longer exist as MGM studios. The company was bought by Kirk Kerkorian, who sold off the studio's possessions and sold 38 acres of the studio's legendary back lots to housing developers. Historic sets were levelled. The company MGM, still exists on a small property in Santa Monica, California, but in the 1970s and 1980s, the company stopped making movies. The adventures and fantasies of this great studio were but a legacy.