A long time ago, in a universe far, far away, in a place called Hollywood, the movie studios and the actors who were under contract to them, celebrated their love of America, and enthusiastically indulged in overt displays of patriotism.
L.B. Mayer (b. Lazar Meir) of MGM, a pioneer of the motion-picture industry, and the man who invented the star system, adopted July 4th as his birthday. Scores of Hollywood historians get all snarky about Mayer’s birthday, claiming that he conveniently changed his birthday in order to cash in on a public identification with America.
What these historians fail to recognize is that Mayer probably did not know the date of his birth.
Mayer was from Minsk, in the Pale of Settlement, where the exact birth dates of most Jews were rarely recorded. My paternal grandfather, Rabbi Shmuel Avrech, also came from the Pale. If anyone asked his birthdate he would shrug unconcernedly and tell us in Yiddish—he barely spoke English—that it was sometime around Chanukah. Naturally, Reb Shmuel had no idea when his parents were born, nor did he care. But he knew their yahrtzeit , the anniversary of their deaths. He had to. For on that day an observant Jew is obligated to recite kaddish .
Anyhoo… back to Hollywood and patriotism.
These days, the Hollywood elite lecture us—tediously and endlessly—that dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Unless the dissent is directed at Barack Obama. Then dissent is actually racism.
But during Hollywood’s golden age, dissent was considered the province of seditious malcontents.
Thus, studio photographers shot thousands of publicity stills featuring contract players celebrating American values with creative displays of good, old-fashioned patriotism.
Seraphic Secret wishes all our friends and relatives a wonderful and patriotic July4, Independence/Declaration Day, celebration.