MGM’s LEO THE LION

The lion at the heart of MGM from the studio’s beginning in 1924 was called Leo , but it wasn’t until the 1950s that the studio used a lion actually called Leo!

MGM inherited the Lion logo from the Goldwyn studio. The following photo shows the various lions used from  1916. Not shown are TELLY (1928- 1930) and  COFFY (1932-1935).

(TANNER was the first to be filmed in color.)

 

 

But Leo was a lion without a roar until 1928 when MGM first recorded the lion’s sound for WHITE SHADOWS OF THE SOUTH SEAS.

So ‘Jackie’ was the first to roar.

Garbo doesn’t look too happy . This photo is from 1925, so I guess this is SLATS.

 

Filming the MGM mascot.

 

Advertising the MGM product, Leo( ie ‘Jackie’ ) was transported with his trainer round the country in 1930 in what was described as a ‘ large and commodious gilded cage’.

Appearing at the Liberty Theatre in Walla Walla, Washington State, Leo was welcomed by the Mayor of Walla Walla.

 

MGM’s poor lion was also subjected to a flying publicity tour in 1928 and called ‘LEO THE MGM FLYING LION.’

A plane was modified with a cage to hold  ‘Jackie’.

Unfortunately the plane crashed in the Arizona desert, but without any casualties.  It was reported that when the pilot finally contacted MGM, their first question was ,”How’s the lion.”

‘Jackie’ was retired to the Philadelphia Zoo in 1931.

 

 

The idea for this post came about after I attended a new hair salon called ROAR, run by a stylist called LEO!

 

The following are some photos showing the popularity of LEO!

I’d like to think that all the MGM lions were well looked after, but seeing them in cages doesn’t look good.

 

 

 

 

 

The Television series about the studio’s history.

 

The MGM Grand, Las Vegas

 

Leo in 2014

 

2 responses »

  1. Wow, Leo has had quite a longer history that I thought! Those are some brave cameramen – and Greta Garbo – to be in the same space with the lions. I hope the lion at least had a good retirement at the zoo.

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