Jewish Home for the Aged — Ida Mayer Cummings


Photograph by Ken Dare / Los Angeles Times

Ida Mayer Cummings, Dec. 15, 1957.

Alicia Mayer Beverley writes from Australia:

I ran across your blog entry on the 1957 Women of the Year. My great-grandmother Ida Mayer Cummings is one of them (she’s to the left of the "Women of the Year" banner). While I’m sure you won’t be heading into this territory again, I thought I might clarify her background as she was in no way obscure.

Ida Mayer Cummings was the older sister and closest confidante of her brother Louis B Mayer. She was also the mother of famed producer Jack Cummings who produced many MGM favorites, such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and most of the Elvis films. Both of her sons-in-laws were also very active producers.


Los Angeles Times file photograph

From left, Ida Mayer Cummings, Mrs. Adolph Weinberg, George Murphy, Adolph Weinberg and Louis B. Mayer with a portrait of Ida Mayer Cummings presented to the Jewish Home for the Aged, Feb. 19, 1951.

But on her own account, she was one of the best known philanthropists of her time and was known by famous actors and Hollywood types as well as politicians and even world leaders through her fundraising activity. She wrote hundreds of letters to some of the world’s most powerful people, encouraging them to give generously to the Jewish Home for the Aged, and in fact, they all seemed to write in return as I have seen folders and folders of letters to and fro. Today, her legacy carries on through the same organization which was renamed some years ago to Associates IMC (Ida Mayer Cummings). They still hold several annual events (a ball and a luncheon), all of which span back 80 years or more to when she started them.

Bob Hope once said of Ida that she was "the only woman I know who can reach through the telephone and grab a man by the lapels!" While her generation has mainly all gone, there are still a handful of very old women who tell you that "everbody knew Ida". She evidently was the female, philanthropic version of her little brother Louis B Mayer, and in fact, they are interred together, along with their brothers Gerald and Ruben Mayer.

So there’s a little bit more insight into a woman I am very proud of. In fact, exactly 50 years after she was named a 1957 Woman of the Year, I was given the International Women’s Day Most Inspiring Leader award here in Australia where I have lived for 20 years.

Thank you for your time Larry and thank you so much for covering that piece. It brought tears to my eyes.


Alicia Mayer Beverley

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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