Ayres was discovered in the 1920s by a talent scout at a nightclub in Los Angeles, where he worked as a pianist for the film. First, he played small and supporting roles, such as next to Greta Garbo in The Kiss 1929. The following year, he finally got a role that would make him internationally popular Ayres played the lead role of Paul Bäumer in the anti-war film on the Western Front, the first film adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque 's novel. With the Academy Award for best film of the year pushed the pacifist film, especially in the German Reich fierce protest at right associations and National Socialists, who were called by Joseph Goebbels for a boycott of the film and other films of the participants.
1938 Lew Ayres was given the title role as Young Dr. Kildare in the eponymous film and was so successful that he embodied the good-natured and helpful doctor to 1942 in eight sequels. Then Ayres worked as a doctor himself - during the Second World War in New Guinea and the Philippines. In 1948 he took on the side of Jane Wyman in the drama Silent lips his movie career back on. This role should earn him his only Oscar nomination.
In subsequent years, his film appearances became less frequent, but still he could look back at the end of his life on a film career spanning nearly 65 years. He played in many different genres - dramas such as Silent lips, comedies like The Sister of the Bride (next to Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant) and Terence Hills Don Camillo remake (None skin like Don Camillo ), musicals such as Broadway Serenade and The Ice Follies ( with James Stewart), horror films like Damien - omen II ( along with William Holden ) and Stephen King's burning must Salem and science fiction films such as Donovan 's Brain and the battle for the Planet of the Apes. In addition, Ayres gave numerous guest appearances in TV series.
Lew Ayres was married three times, including with the spectacle fellow Lola Lane (1931-1933) and Ginger Rogers ( 1934-1940 ). He died on December 30, 1996, two days after his 88th birthday, in Los Angeles.