Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) was founded in 1924 when American business magnate Marcus Loew gained control of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures.

MGM lion Slats
Slats, appearing from 1917-1924, born in Dublin Zoo

Ad executive Howard Dietz said he decided to use a lion as the company’s mascot as a tribute to his alma mater, Columbia University, whose athletic team nickname is The Lions.

The first lion, called Slats, was used for the original Goldwyn Pictures design and for the first MGM version. He didn’t actually roar, preferring to people watch.

The lion gave an audible roar on July 31, 1928 for the debut of the movie White Shadows in the South Seas. The roar was heard via a gramophone record because the movie was silent.

MGM lion Jackie
Jackie, 1928-1956, the second lion to be used in the logo

Jackie’s roar was recorded for use at the beginning of MGM talking movies. A sound stage was built around his cage to make the recording.

MGM lion recording

In addition to appearing in the MGM logo, Jackie appeared in more than one hundred films (all black and white films from 1928-1956, including the Tarzan movies that starred Johnny Weissmuller).

Coffee was one of two lions that were used for two-strip Technicolor test logos on early MGM colour productions.

MGM lion
Coffee, 1932-1935 two-strip Technicolor

MGM began producing full three-strip Technicolor films in 1934, and used Tanner for all Technicolor films from 1934-1956.

MGM lion
Tanner, 1934-1956 full three-strip Technicolor films

The sixth lion, officially named George, was introduced in 1956.

MGM lion
George, 1956-1957

Leo, the seventh lion, is MGM’s longest-lived, having appeared on most MGM films since 1957. He was also the youngest of all the lions at the time MGM filmed his roar (hence the smaller mane).

MGM lion
Leo, 1957-present
Leo lion Alfred Hitchcock
Hitchcock “directing” Leo in 1958, photo by Clarence Sinclair Bull

In 1965, in attempt to update its image, MGM recruited Lippincott to create a more contemporary logo. The result was known as “The Stylized Lion,” and it appeared at the front of three films in the 1960s: Grand Prix (1966), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and The Subject Was Roses (1968).

MGM lion Lippincott
The stylized lion, 1966-1968

Leo was reinstated afterwards, but a refined version of Lippincott’s mark is in use today for MGM Resorts International.

More elsewhere:
Leon the Lion, on Wikipedia
The Lives of the Lions from MGM Credits

For other logo histories, in the archives, here’s how the Coca-Cola logo came to be, and the story behind the NBA logo.


I can attest that in late 58 or 59 I went to Jungleland with my parents. While they were looking around I found Leo’s cage behind a railing and chainlink. He was up against the chainlink and I climbed over to pet his nose. My Dad was watching and he cautioned my Mother to remain quiet. After a few minutes of my 5 year old hand stroking this wonderful beast’s nose I came back to my parents. I have never forgotten the feel of his soft skin on his nose and his warm acceptance of my nose rub.

I absolutely love Alfred Hitchcock! He definitely wasn’t afraid to take risks! All Hail the King of AMERICA HORROR!

1. Downloaded and printed out article on M.G.M.’s Leo the Lion logo, but it only explains the ones used in MGM’s movies, how about doing an article on the lion logos used in their t.v. series.
2. Is there some publication kind like a trademark / logo encylopedia, do you guys know of such a thing.


You’re saying that all 7 MGM lions Slats, Jackie, Telly, Coffee, Tanner George and Leo the lions of MGM logo went back to the zoo right? I hope they’re still alive and well.

Yes they are all still alive and well! Slats (the lion from 1917) is doing especially well. He loves his daily walks. Jackie, Telly, and Coffee have all retired from film and are living in a private reserve, but Tanner, George, and Leo are still very popular in the industry.

Lions live around 20 to 25 years in captivity. No way a lion from 1917 can still be alive. He’d be more than 100 years old.

You telling me that all 7 MGM lions — Slats, Jackie, Telly, Coffee, Tanner, George and Leo — of the MGM logo are still alive and well? Did they go back to the zoo?

Is that face under the lion ‘blackface’? In oz we are debating the use of blackface and I was wondering if this is an example.

I agree, it most definitely looks like “Blackface” and has always bothered me. However, it seems like recently they “lightened” it up to appear like the faces of “Comedy & Tragedy.” Funny thing though it’s only one face. Hmmm. Deep programming is everywhere in our “culture” though. No excuse makes it “right.” Just like the completely racist logo of the “Red Skins” as a “team” name is fully ratchet — it literally refers to First Nation Human Beings being “skinned alive.” A horrifying image for anyone. That’s like calling a team “gas chamber” or “Holocaust.” Programs run deep, infecting and effecting our “culture” in bad ways. Sigh.

Actually, the Redskins’ name refers to the slang that early Americans used to refer to the Natives of the Northeast, which was a reference to their buckskins, and not their complexion (European tanners didn’t cure leather in the same manner as the natives did, and the early colonists were intrigued by the reddish leather). It’s also important to note that every time a survey is done, the overwhelming majority of Native Americans find nothing offensive about the name (or the Chiefs for that matter), and tens of dozens of Native American schools across the country have adopted both the name and the logo as their school mascot.

There was a poll taken of native Americans back in the 90s on whether or not they were offended by the sports teams names/mascots. The vast majority said they rarely paid attention to it at all. You’re just jumping on the bandwagon of the super-sensitive, offended by everything, crybaby liberal left.

My sons were Indian Guides because our local YMCA had volunteers who watched over grade school kids after school and Boy Scouts seemed to be dying out.

We had Indian history taught with each ‘tribe’ choosing a tribe native to what we call California, and then reading/learning about their history — ours was “Zuni”! The movie of “USHI” was very popular and interesting, I had read the book of this Last Ushi tribe member coming out of the wilderness back in the 1920s(?) evidently after his mother and sister had finally died! Great book and really wonderful Academy Award winning movie as well!


The diehard but intellectually ignorant few of course won their fight to halt Indian Guides so that children could no longer enjoy being taught Indian history in a respectful way and instead get nothing but cursory history paragraphs and sports teams (though those are being trashed as well — some justifiably, but I’d like to have teams become respectable and contribute to the existing tribes’ welfare instead).

Did you actually read that poll or just the headlines about it? The question asked was to rate various issues based on their severity/needing more focus. They never said they didn’t care or that the names and logos didn’t bother them, only that it is less concerning than things like tribal sovereignty and availability of adequate food and housing on reservations.

It’s Thalia, the “Muse Of Comedy”. Together with Melpomene, the “Muse Of Tragedy”, their two masks are associated with Greek dramas, and represented the range of human emotions. Since plays of the time were short on actors they wore masks to play the various roles of the “Chorus”. The masks were usually white.

Years ago I was told by a friend who worked at the Eureka Thearter that each consecutive roar was a rating tool.

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