Taylor was MGM’s golden boy during the golden age of Hollywood. He was under contract from the mid-1930s to the late 1950s. In the 1960s, he would return to the studio for one more feature and a TV movie. Altogether, he made 57 features for the lion, 58 if you count the TV movie. His first appearance in an MGM studio film was in late 1934, twelfth-billed in A WICKED WOMAN. But he quickly moved up—in his second film, released a month later, he was second-billed after Chester Morris. And two months after that, he had his first starring role.
Lewis Stone is remembered as Andy Hardy’s father, Judge Hardy, in MGM’s long-running Hardy family series. But he made many films at the studio. In fact, he had started with the company in 1922 when it was still Metro Pictures (it would not become MGM until 1925). Stone appeared in many silent films throughout the twenties, and in the thirties, he easily transitioned to talkies. When he died in 1953, he was still under contract at MGM–his last film was released two months after his death. From 1922 to 1953, Stone made 97 films for Metro.
Walter Pidgeon had already been making films in Hollywood for over a decade when he signed with MGM in 1937. His first film at the studio was Jean Harlow’s last, SARATOGA, which almost wasn’t completed due to her untimely death in the middle of production. From 1937 to 1956, Pidgeon would make 58 films at MGM as well as others on loan out to various studios during this time. He is most remembered for his frequent collaborations with Greer Garson in the 1940s and 1950s. Six years after his contract ended, he briefly returned to his old stomping grounds to do a guest-starring role on Rawhide, a popular western series MGM produced.
Lana Tuner had small parts in the late 1930s at Warner Brothers when she was still a teen. But she was not really getting anywhere, until she was signed by MGM in 1938 and cast in LOVE FINDS ANDY HARDY. From 1938 to 1956, she would be one of the studio’s top female stars and appear in 33 MGM features. She was never loaned out to other studios during this time.
Mickey started making films in 1927, and in 1933, he appeared in his first MGM motion picture. For the next year, he was still making films at most of the major studios. But by 1934, he had settled in at the lion, and a long profitable run began. During the next fourteen years, he appeared in 48 motion pictures for the studio, plus a loan out to Fox. Two of those years were interrupted by military service. Around 1948, Rooney was dropped by the studio but he occasionally came back—once in 1951 for THE STRIP, then again in 1958 for the last Andy Hardy movie. He continued to remain active for decades, and in 1969 he had a supporting role in MGM’s THE EXTRAORDINARY SEAMAN.
Rooney’s occasional costar Wallace Beery appeared in movies for over 35 years, going back to the silent era. He was MGM’s highest paid contractee in 1932, meaning he earned more than stars like Greta Garbo and Clark Gable. His first MGM film was the critically lauded THE BIG HOUSE. He then had several runaway hits with Marie Dressler and in 1931 he earned a Best Actor Oscar. There were occasional loanouts to Fox, but usually the popular actor stayed put at the lion. From 1930 until his death in 1949, Beery appeared in 42 features films for MGM, and few of them, if any, ever tanked at the box office.