30 November 2016

Jackie (1928-1956)

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MGM's 2nd "Leo The Lion"

Since 1916 there have been 7 different lions used for the MGM logo. Although MGM has referred to all of them as "Leo the Lion", only the lion in use since 1957, was actually named "Leo".

Jackie (1928-1956).

Jackie, trained by Mel Koontz, was the second lion used for the MGM logo. He was the first to roar, which was first heard via a gramophone record for MGM's White Shadows in the South Seas (1928). In the early years (1928–c. 1933), there was an extended version wherein, after growling three times and looking off to the right, the lion would return his gaze to the front a few seconds later. Jackie appeared on all black-and-white MGM films from 1928 to 1956, as well as the sepia-tinted opening credits of The Wizard of Oz (1939). He also appeared before MGM's black-and-white cartoons, such as the Flip the Frog and Willie Whopper series produced for MGM by the short-lived Ub Iwerks Studio, as well as the Captain and the Kids cartoons produced by MGM in 1938 and 1939. A colourised variation of the logo can be found on the colourised version of Babes in Toyland (1934), also known as March of the Wooden Soldiers; an animated version (done via rotoscope) appeared on the 1939 Captain and the Kids cartoon Petunia Natural Park. Jackie died on February 26, 1952. He would later make a comeback at the beginning of the film Hearts of the West (1975).

In the early 1930s, MGM reissued some of its earlier, pre-1928 silent films with soundtracks containing recorded music and sound effects. Among the films reissued in this manner were Greed (1924), Ben-Hur (1925) and Flesh and the Devil (1926). For these sound reissues, the first MGM lion, Slats, was plastered over by Jackie, causing some film authorities to assume that the lion had been in use before 1928.

In addition to appearing in the MGM logo, Jackie appeared in over a hundred films, including the Tarzan movies that starred Johnny Weissmuller. Jackie also appeared with an apprehensive Greta Garbo in a well-known 1926 publicity still. The lion is also known for surviving several accidents (including two train wrecks, an earthquake, and an explosion in the studio), giving him the nickname "Leo the Lucky".

Photo: Jackie's roar being recorded for use at the beginning of MGM talking movies. A sound stage was built around his cage to make the recording.