An interesting brief look into the life of Irving G. Thalberg written by my friend Matthew Rovner.
Born in 1899, Irving G. Thalberg ran Universal Pictures at 20 and co-founded MGM at 24. His life and work are shaded with irony and contradiction. Owing to a severe heart ailment, he was not expected to live past 30. He consequently spent most of his formative years in a sick room reading popular novels, classics and philosophers like Kant. Yet Thalberg did not emerge from his Proustian childhood as a budding novelist; instead, his ambitious mother, Henrietta, pushed him into the social and visual world of popular-film entertainment.
[…] As a youth, Thalberg advocated for socialism; however, as an adult he destroyed socialist author Upton Sinclair’s 1934 campaign for governor of California by producing a series of phony newsreels, implying that the candidate was disloyal to America and was a communist. Thalberg feared that if Sinclair became governor, the film business and its wealthy leaders would suffer financially.
Thalberg’s political propaganda films to protect corporatism by calling someone a nefarious agent for anti-American interests sound familiar? Ain’t nothing new in the political play-book of the extreme right, only time tested fear mongering to protect profits.