The MGM Lion – A Roar of Truth and Myth

MGM lion

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) logo, featuring the iconic roaring lion, is one of the most recognized symbols in the film industry. However, an urban legend has circulated for years, claiming that the original MGM lion killed its trainer the day after filming the logo sequence. This article aims to debunk this myth and shed light on the true history of the MGM lion.

The MGM lion logo was first designed for Goldwyn Pictures Corporation in 1916. Howard Deitz, a Publicity Executive, chose a lion as the studio’s mascot, paying tribute to his alma mater, Columbia University. The first lion used in the logo was “Slats,” who appeared from 1917 until 1924. After the 1924 merger that created MGM, “Slats” was retained and continued to appear on the logo until 1928.

The rumor that the original MGM lion killed its trainer and two other people on set after filming the logo sequence has been widely circulated. However, this claim has been proven false by multiple sources. The lion in question is often presumed to be “Slats,” but it’s important to note that “Slats” was not only trained by Volney Phifer but also buried on his estate after the lion died in 1936.

MGM lion killed its trainer

The MGM lion logo has been subject to several urban legends over the years. One such tale suggests that the lion was originally meant to be standing proud and silent but roared when two burglars rushed into the warehouse where the logo was being filmed. The lion supposedly attacked the burglars, one of whom died of his injuries in the hospital, while the other was hit by a police car during his escape. However, this story, like the one about the lion killing its trainer, is nothing more than an amusing fabrication.

In reality, there have been seven lions used for the MGM logo over the years, the most well-known being “Leo,” who has been appearing on MGM films since 1957. Each lion has contributed to the enduring legacy of the MGM logo, and none have been involved in any incidents of violence or harm towards their trainers or anyone else on set.

In conclusion, the story of the MGM lion killing its trainer is a myth, debunked by numerous sources. The MGM lions, from “Slats” to “Leo,” have been professional animal actors who contributed to one of the most iconic logos in the film industry. Their roars have opened countless films, thrilling audiences worldwide, and their legacy continues to endure, untarnished by the urban legends that have sprung up around them.

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