The 'star system' flourished with each studio having its own
valuable 'properties', and Irving Thalberg was responsible
for promoting MGM's stars like no other. The 30s was the
age of lavish glamour and sex appeal, and MGM became the
biggest, most predominant and most star-studded studio of
all, making it "The Home of the Stars." It promised "more
stars than there are in heaven," and brought Jeanette
MacDonald-Nelson Eddy films to the screen. And the studio
also had high quality productions due to its great craftsmen,
including King Vidor, Victor Fleming, and George Cukor.

The studio system was a way for movie studios to dominant
in Hollywood from the early 1920s through the early 1950s.
The term studio system refers to the practice of large
motion picture studios producing movies primarily on their
own filmmaking lots with creative personnel under often
long-term contract and  pursuing vertical integration
through ownership or effective control of distributors and
movie theaters, guaranteeing additional sales of films
through manipulative booking techniques. A 1948 Supreme
Court ruling against those distribution and exhibition
practices hastened the end of the studio system. In 1954,
the last of the operational links between a major production
studio and theater chain was broken and the era of the
studio system was officially over. The period stretching
from the introduction of sound to the court ruling and the
beginning of the studio breakups, 1927/29–1948/49, is
commonly known as the Golden Age of Hollywood. Some
say this was a major contributor to the decline of MGM.

By 1934, MGM had over 60 big-name actors under contract.
MGM had the largest 'stable' of stars of all the studios,
including: Joan Crawford (originally a shopgirl named
Lucille Le Sueur), Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, William Powell,
Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Jean Harlow, Robert
Montgomery, Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, Katharine
Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, the Barrymores,
and Spencer Tracy.

During World War II, many of the studio's biggest stars
joined the military to fight. In effect, MGM lost many of its
biggest stars, including Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable.
Because MGM had such an impressive stable of actors who
were constantly being groomed for stardom, these stars
were easily replaced by such new faces as Gene Kelly,
Esther Williams and Lana Turner. As a result, MGM
withstood the loss of its talent pool during the early to mid
40's much better than other studios.
Jean Harlow
Judy Garland
Clark Gable
Katharine Hepburn
Spencer Tracy
MGM 20th Anniversary Photo circa 1945
James Stewart
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