Irene Mayer Selznick

Irene Gladys Selznick (née Mayer; April 2, 1907 – October 10, 1990) was an American socialite and theatrical producer.

Irene Mayer Selznick
Irene Gladys Mayer

(1907-04-02)April 2, 1907
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedOctober 10, 1990(1990-10-10) (aged 83)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Resting placeHillside Memorial Park Cemetery
EducationHollywood School for Girls
OccupationTheatrical producer
Years active19491961
David O. Selznick
(m. 1930; div. 1949)
Parent(s)Louis B. Mayer
Margaret Shenberg

Early life

Irene was born in Brooklyn, the younger of two sisters born to film producer Louis B. Mayer and his first wife, Margaret Shenberg. Her sister, Edith (1905–1987), was nicknamed "Edie".[1]

Edith married William Goetz in March 1930, who became the vice president of 20th Century Fox in 1941 and later became the head of production at Universal-International.[2][3] Selznick's paternal and maternal grandparents were Belarusian-Jews who immigrated to Canada in the 1880s from Vilnius and Kaunas (then territories belonging to the Russian Empire).[4][5]

The Mayer family initially lived in Haverhill, Massachusetts and then moved to Hollywood in 1918. It was there that her father established Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, one of the more successful film studios of its time.[4] She attended Hollywood School for Girls, a private school in Los Angeles.[6]

Marriage and career

Mayer married producer David O. Selznick in 1930. Her husband came from an extremely dysfunctional but talented family, and he was one of the few men who stimulated her intellect. During the marriage, Selznick acted as a hostess to the couple's Hollywood parties. The couple frequently socialized with Hollywood stars, including Ingrid Bergman, Janet Gaynor, and Katharine Hepburn.[7] Selznick was also an executive at her husband's production company.[4] Selznick also did volunteer and charity work and worked as a probation officer for juveniles for Los Angeles County during World War II.[8]

After separating from her husband in 1945, Selznick moved to New York City where she pursued her love of the theatre.[6] In 1947, she worked with playwright Tennessee Williams and director Elia Kazan and produced her first play, A Streetcar Named Desire, which gave Marlon Brando his break-out role. The play's success brought her a great deal of respect, and she produced four more plays, among them 1955's The Chalk Garden for which she received a Tony Award nomination. She retired in 1961.[8]

Considered by her peers within the entertainment industry as one of the foremost historians of Hollywood and Broadway, Selznick published her autobiography A Private View in 1983.[7]

Personal life

Mayer and Selznick had two sons, Lewis Jeffrey (born 1932) and Daniel Selznick (born 1936), both of whom became film producers.[9] Daniel married Susan Warms Dryfoos, daughter of Orvil E. Dryfoos.[10]

However, David O. Selznick's constant philandering and frequent financial problems as a result of a gambling addiction led to their growing apart, which resulted in her leaving Selznick in 1945.[6][11] Their divorce was finalized on January 22, 1949.[12]


Irene Mayer Selznick died on October 10, 1990 from complications from breast cancer at her apartment at The Pierre in Manhattan.[8] Her remains were returned to California where she was interred next to her mother in the Mausoleum, Hall of Graciousness, Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Broadway productions

Further reading

  • Selznick, Irene Mayer (1983). A Private View. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-394-40192-1.
  • Lafferty, Jennifer (2017) Movie Dynasty Princesses: Irene Mayer Selznick and Edith Mayer Goetz CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform ISBN 1973715252


  1. Eyman, Scott (2008). Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer. Simon and Schuster. pp. 28–29. ISBN 1-439-10791-2.
  2. Eyman 2008 p.162
  3. Finler, Joel Waldo (2003). The Hollywood Story. Wallflower Press. p. 54. ISBN 1-903-36466-3.
  4. Wigan Marvin, Angela. "Irene Mayer Selznick (1907-1909)".
  5. Berg, A. Scott (1998). Goldwyn: A Biography. Riverhead Trade. p. 9. ISBN 1-573-22723-4.
  6. Pace, Eric (October 11, 1990). "Irene Mayer Selznick Dies at 83; Producer of Broadway 'Streetcar'".
  7. "Irene Mayer Selznick's Album of Hollywood". July 4, 1983. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016.
  8. Oliver, Myrna (October 11, 1990). "Irene Mayer Selznick; Producer, Daughter of Movie Magnate".
  9. Bowers, Ronald L. (1976). The Selznick Players. A. S. p. 37. ISBN 0-498-01375-8.
  10. "Susan Warms Dryfoos, Author, Wed To Daniel Mayer Selznick, a Producer",, October 9, 1989.
  11. Koenig, Rhoda (November 9, 1992). "He Lost It at the Movies". New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. 24 (44): 78. ISSN 0028-7369.
  12. Green, Paul (2011). Jennifer Jones: The Life and Films. McFarland. p. 105. ISBN 0-786-46041-5.
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