The Life and Times of The MGM Lions

Mental Floss has an interesting history of the famous lion that appears in the beginning of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) films. Actually, it’s not just one lion, but five:

Jackie was the first MGM lion to make his voice heard, thanks to the gramophone. He introduced MGM’s first sound production, White Shadows in the South Seas, with a roar. The lion came from something of an acting animal dynasty. His mother, Stubby, was part of a performance troupe, and his grandmother, Mamie, was one of the first animals to ever appear on film in the U.S. Jackie’s own resume went beyond roaring in a studio logo—he also appeared in 100+ movies.

Jackie had another claim to fame. He survived two train wrecks, an earthquake, a boat sinking, an explosion at the studio, and a plane crash that left him stranded in the Arizona wilderness for several days (pilot Martin Jenson left the cat with some snacks while he went in search of help). After all that, he earned the nickname “Leo the Lucky.”

Leo the Lion is the current iteration seen in MGM films, present since 1957:

Leo is MGM’s longest-serving lion and was also the youngest at the time his roar was filmed. In addition to his appearance in the logo, he appeared in several Tarzan movies, the Tarzan television adaptation, and other films. Leo may or may not have been the lion’s actual name, but after he was purchased from animal dealer Henry Treffich, the name was used by someone at the studio and stuck both there and in the public consciousness.

Read the rest here.

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