The first lion, called Slats, was used for the original Goldwyn Pictures design and for the first MGM version. He didn’t actually roar, preferring to people watch.
Jackie, born in 1915, was the second lion used for the MGM logo, and the first MGM lion to roar. The lion gave an audible roar on July 31, 1928 for the debut of the movie White Shadows in the South Seas. The roar was heard via a gramophone record because the movie was silent.
Jackie’s roar was recorded for use at the beginning of MGM talking movies, including the Wizard of Oz. A sound stage was built around his cage to make the recording.
In addition to appearing in the MGM logo, Jackie appeared in over a hundred films, including the ‘Tarzan’ movies. The lion is also known for surviving several accidents, including two train wrecks, an earthquake, and an explosion in the studio. In the most famous case, a pilot had to crash-land his plane, and left Jackie stranded in the Arizona wilderness for four days with some water and sandwiches. Jackie received the nickname “Leo the Lucky”.
Jackie retired in the Memphis Zoo before he died on February 26, 1935.