It’s possible the lion in the famous MGM production logo may be more fatigued than ferocious. Hollywood thrives on illusion, after all. But to get to the lion’s heart of the matter, we’d need to know which lion you’re referring to. MGM has reportedly used five different kings of the jungle as its mascot.
The first was the aptly named Leo. We found reference to Leo and his trainer Volney Phifer, who taught Leo to roar on cue. If either Leo or Phifer earned their bread, butter, and raw meat, that classic cat is indeed roaring. Of course, when he debuted in 1928, movies weren’t yet talkies, so audiences had to recoil in fear from a roar on a phonograph record.
New lions followed in Leo’s footsteps, and the logo changed, but the MGM tradition has stood the test of time. Come to think of it, if any of the lions had yawned, that would seriously affect the third roar theory. Besides, whatever may have occurred with any of the onscreen jungle cats, we’ve always thought MGM title screens look better with a Tom cat.