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Everyone Knows This Lion's Face, But No One Knew His History, Until Now

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MGM

Movie fans will recognize this famous lion as the logo for movie studio MGM, and true film buffs might even know that his name is Leo (supposedly), but this cat has a secret history as interesting as any Hollywood star.

Slats, the first MGM lion.MGM

When MGM was in the market for a new logo in 1917, designer Howard Dietz was inspired by his college mascot and suggested a lion. The lucky feline who was picked to be the first ever MGM lion was Slats, a lion from the Dublin Zoo who traveled to Hollywood for his big break. But audiences never heard Slats roar, since this was before movies even had sound!

Jackie the lion records his roar.MGM

When the studio need to record a new version of "Leo" for the 1920s (including the sound of his roar) the cat they picked for the job was named Jackie. This was a true show business lion: he was the grandson of one of Hollywood's first trained lions, and the son of a circus performer.

Jackie poses for a photo with Greta Garbo.MGM

After recording the movie opening, Jackie had a long movie career with more than 100 credits. He rubbed shoulders with some of Hollywood's biggest stars - including Greta Garbo - and he was featured in lots of classic Tarzan movies.

Jackie, on the set of one of his films.The Museum of San Fernando Valley

But Jackie was best-known as "Leo the Lucky," a nickname he won by surviving a bizarre string of workplace accidents that would have driven a human actor to leave Hollywood for good.

But earthquakes, explosions, and even a plane crash couldn't scare Jackie...

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