|Slats, the first lion in his first appearance|
MGM Studio was billed during the golden era as having "more stars than there are in the heavens," a not wholly unrealistic statement given their impressive stable of talent. The one constant throughout the years, from the first, has been their logo and mascot, the roaring lion.
The lion was chosen for Goldwyn Pictures Corporation in 1916 by Howard Dietz, an ad executive, in honor of his alma mater, Columbia University, whose athletic team was known as The Lions. Dietz also claimed that Columbia's fight song "Roar, Lion, Roar" inspired him to make the lion roar.
To represent the logo, a lion named Slats was chosen. Slats was born in the Dublin Zoo and originally named Cairbre. He would represent Goldwyn Pictures Corporation from 1917 until 1924. He didn't roar but rather watched his audience pensively.
Slats would continue to appear as MGM's first official lion until 1927 and he would die in 1936, being buried on trainer Volney Phifer's property.
|Jackie at work, recording his famous roar|
In order to capitalize on Jackie's popularity, and to publicize MGM and its productions, MGM toured Jackie as "Leo The MGM Flying Lion" across the States. They modified a plane to accommodate Jackie's cage in the body of the craft with tanks for milk, water and extra fuel.
|Jackie's plane before|
|Jackie's plane after|
Jackie was a star in his own right. He would appear on films in over 100 features for MGM, including Johnny Weissmuller's popular Tarzan films.
Some reports claim Jackie died in 1935; others in 1952. What is known for certain is that Jackie would appear as the MGM logo off and on for twenty-eight years.
In 1928, MGM began experimenting with two color short subjects and animated cartoons in 1930.
Telly, the first of two lions, was used from 1928 until 1932.
Coffee, the second lion, was used from 1932 until 1934.
Tanner the lion would be the second MGM lion used for Technicolor, from 1935 until 1956.
George was the sixth lion, the one with the shortest reign and longest mane. He would be introduced in 1956 and would only make appearances for a year.
Leo's reign has lasted sixty years and counting.
|The Stylized Lion|