Wednesday, 21 May 2014


MGM, logo, lion
The lion used in the original MGM movie logo killed its trainer and two assistants the day after the logo was filmed. 

The lion used in the original MGM movie logo killed its trainer and two assistants the day after the logo was filmed....Leo the Lion is the mascot for the legendary Hollywood film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Since 1924 (when the studio was formed), there has been around five different lions used for the iconic MGM production logo, which was also first used in 1924. Tanner was the third MGM lion, used on all Technicolor films and MGM cartoons. This was the second longest serving lion, having being used for 18 years. The current lion, which does not have a large mane, has been in use since 1957; when the MGM animation department closed in 1958, it re-opened with new Tom and Jerry shorts in 1963 that did not use the current lion for the opening sequence, but Tanner. The 1927 recording of the roar of Leo the Lion, which would become the trademark of all Metro Goldwyn Meyer movies. Hollywood's premier animal trainer Volney Phifer never thought that he would become inseparable with the cub he found in Port Sudan, Africa. Leo, the MGM lion, that led an amazing life was the straggliest lion Phifer had ever laid eyes on. Leo never let me down, said Phifer. While touring the globe for MGM sstudios, Leo earned a reputation of being a cat with nine lives: he survived two train wrecks, a flood in Mississippi, an earthquake in California, a fire and a plane crash. Samuel Goldwyn selected Leo to represent Goldwyn Company as its trademark when he saw the cub developed into a handsome animal. It was then when Leo retired from his acting career. Leo died at the age of twenty-three, an old age for a lion, leaving many descendants. His body rests on Phifer's farm in Gillette, New Jersey...Remember when this played on when you were watching Tom and Jerry when you were a little kid. Who could forget? Here is an interesting fact. The lion used in the original MGM movie logo killed its trainer and two assistants the day after the logo was filmed. The lion was named Slats. It growls rather than roar in the film shooting. Slats was used on all black and white films from 1924 to 1928. For years, the lion would tour with MGM promoters to signify the studio’s launch. During this time, he survived 2 train wrecks, a flood in Mississippi, an earthquake in California, a fire, and a plane crash. Slats died in 1936 at age 23 and was buried on Phifer’s farm in New Jersey. Now the lion and trainer can die in peace.
The well-known symbol of the MGM movies, the roaring lion was originally planned to be silent, but during filming a pair of burglars – Boris Regina and Karl Maninovsky – incidentally walked in on set. The lion started roaring and attacked the burglars – one of them died of his injuries in the hospital, the other was hit in mid-escape by a police car that just arrived to the crime scene … the lion killed his trainer and the two assistants of his the next day… the recording was supervised by Alfred Hitchock himself” – these are only a few often-quoted trivias related to the most well-known animated logo. But how much of these are actually true?
The first thing that needs clarification before anything else: there wasn’t only one Marlboro Man in world history and certainly not one single lion who posed in front of the camera for long decades. The idea actually predates 1924 – when MGM was founded by the merger of three film studios) and it was Goldwyn, one of the original companies, who actually used it.
As it turns out from the ex-MGM Ed Vigdor’s retrospective article, it was the Dublin-born Slats (worked between 1916 and 1928) who first hung his head, silently, in the midst of the logo. Slats was not only trained by Volney Phifer, but also buried on his estate after the lion died in 1936.


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