My journey into stories behind famous movie related things we take for granted continues, this week’s choice is the MGM Logo. Turns out the lion has been roaring for a long time.
So how did MGM became the company that it is today? Marcus Loew was a very succesful enterpreneur who steadily built his chain of Loew’s Theatres, one of the most prestigious in the US. He needed to have a steady flow of movies for his theatres and founded People’s Vaudeville Company, which later changed its name to Loew’s Consolidated Enterprises, which became Loew’s, Inc in 1919.
Part of his expansion was buying Metro Pictures Corporation (founded in 1916) and Goldwyn Pictures (founded in 1917). He also bought Louis B. Mayer Pictures. Loewe is German for lion, so using it as the logo was appropriate. The official name is Leo the Lion, but he has been “played” by various lions.
As you can see the first logo isn’t that different from the current one (even when it wasn’t called MGM yet). The lion is called Slats and for those wondering what “Ars Gratia Artis” means: It’s Latin for “Art for art’s sake”. It was designed in 1916 by Howard Dietz, the studio’s chief publicist. He chose a lion because it was the Columbia University’s mascot.
Mayer added his name to Metro Goldwyn to complete the three letters we take for granted now. Slats the Lion still appears.
Slats was replaced for this updated version by Jackie the Lion and it was the first logo where you would hear him roar.
Telly the Lion was used in the all the color version movies of MGM.
Coffee the Lion was another lion used for the color versions of MGM movies.
The next lion to appear in the logo was called Tanner. The logo didn’t change much except for the coloring and filmstrip details.
George the Lion was used here and he clearly seems a bit different in his look compared to the other lions.
This logo wasn’t very popular and only used on two movies, Grand Prix and 2001: A Space Oddysey
The logo as it has been for a very long time with Leo roaring, there have been subtle changes, but the lion has not changed.