On this day, July 31, 1928, MGM’s Leo the lion roared for the first time. He introduced MGM’s first talking picture, “White Shadows on the South Seas,” (released domestically November 10, 1928) the first MGM picture released with a pre-recorded soundtrack. The soundtrack consisted of a romantic score by William Axt and David Mendoza, with a few sound effects such as wind howling, a storm, and trees ruffling. Leo’s dialogue was more extensive than the film’s, whose only spoken word was a faint, “Hello.”
Leo the Lion, the mascot for the Hollywood film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and one of its predecessors, Goldwyn Pictures, featured in the studio’s production logo, was created by the Paramount Studios art director Lionel S. Reiss.
Since 1924 (when the studio was formed by the merger of Samuel Goldwyn’s studio with Marcus Loew’s Metro Pictures and Louis B. Mayer’s company), there have been around five different lions used for the MGM logo (although two other lions were used for MGM’s two-strip Technicolor films in the late 1920s and early ’30s).
These were Slats (1917–1928), Jackie (1928–1956), Two-Strip Technicolor Experiments (1927–1934)–the first lion (referred to as “Telly”) appeared on all color MGM movies until 1932. The second lion (referred to as “Coffee”) made his debut in 1932, appearing on color films until 1934 (and 1935 for the Happy Harmonies shorts)–. Tanner (1934–1956), George (1956–1958), Leo (1957–present).
1929 – Don Murray (actor: Bus Stop, Knots Landing, The Outcasts, Baby the Rain Must Fall, Peggy Sue Got Married, Advice and Consent)
1939 – France Nuyen (Vannga) (actress: The Joy Luck Club, South Pacific, Diamond Head, St. Elsewhere)
1944 – Geraldine Chaplin (actress: Nashville, Rosalind, Chaplin, Dr. Zhivago, The Wedding; daughter of comedian Charlie Chaplin)
1951 – Barry Van Dyke (actor: Diagnosis Murder, The Van Dyke Show, Foxfire Light, It Happened at Lakewood Manor, Casino; son of actor Dick Van Dyke)
1952 – Alan Autry (actor: In the Heat of the Night, Proud Men, Blue De Ville, At Close Range; mayor of Fresno California)
1956 – Michael Biehn (actor: The Rock, Breach of Trust, Blood of the Hunter, Tombstone, A Taste for Killing, Timebomb, Aliens, The Terminator, The Fan, Coach, The Runaways)
1962 – Wesley Snipes (actor: Demolition Man, Rising Sun, Major League, Sugar Hill, White Men Can’t Jump, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, One Night Stand, U.S. Marshals)
1966 – Dean Cain (actor: Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman)