MGM’s Leo the Lion roars

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer came from the joining of forces of Samuel Goldwyn, Marcus Loew’s Metro Studios, and Louis B. Mayer, all notable producers in their own right. Their new venture needed a mascot, however. Goldwyn had previously already used a lion, designed by him by the studio publicist Howard Dietz based on the mascot of his alma mater, Columbia. As Goldwyn was the leader of the newly-formed studio, he decided to retain the lion.

On this day, July 31, in 1928, MGMs mascot Leo the Lion introduced the company’s first “talkie”. That lion’s actual name was Jackie, and he was actually the second of the MGM lions to grace the screen — the first, Slats, roared silently in the studio’s early black and whites.

The original Goldwyn Studio “Leo” that is seen today was the fifth of the line, found and trained by Volney Phifer, a notable lion handler of the the 1950s. Four of the name were named — before Leo, an unnamed lion served MGM from 1956-58. And before that, MGM’s most famous lion, Tanner, roared his introduction to MGM films and cartoons from 1934-56.

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