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MGM Television was established on June 30, 1956 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer under Loews, Inc. It was initiated to have MGM to distribute 770 of its films, 900 shorts, produce network series, and acquire TV stations after its first program, the short-lived series The M-G-M Parade was canceled by ABC in the spring. The M-G-M Parade first used the 1953 version of Jackie at the beginning rather than the end of the program. The company did not use an end logo until 1957. Most of the pre-1986 library is owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment through Turner Entertainment Co., while MGM Holdings Inc. owns the rest of the library.
1st Logo (September 20, 1957-October 2, 1960)
Nickname: "MGM Lion Statue"
Logo: On a dark (or gray) background, we see a brown (or drawn) statue of the MGM logo, as seen on movies from 1924-1983, sitting on a pedestal. There is text seen over the statue saying "AN MGM-TV PRODUCTION" (or "AN MGM-TV PRESENTATION"). The name of the Executive Producer is seen below.
- On The Islanders, the text "MGM-TV" zooms in from the center.
- On Northwest Passage, the 1953 version of Jackie in the standard MGM film logo appears at the beginning with a voice-over saying "From the MGM Studios in Hollywood..."
Music/Sounds: The closing theme of the show.
Music/Sounds Variant: On The Islanders, a voice-over says, "A MGM television production".
Availability: This appeared only on the three short-lived series Northwest Passage, The Islanders, and The Thin Man. This logo was retained on recent airings of the latter on GetTV.
Editor's Note: None.
2nd Logo (September 18, 1960-1973)
Nicknames: "Lion Wallpaper", "Red Lion Wallpaper", "Leo the Lion"
Logo: We see Leo the lion (from the 1957 movie logo) inside a black circle border, which reads "METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER TELEVISION". The lion roars once. The background either has wallpapered images of a lion's face or a live action background.
Trivia: The same image was used as the print logo of MGM Records until 1966. Like the film logo, the original footage of leo without the border is currently lost due to the vault fire.
Variants: These are the main are color/B&W variations of this logo:
- 1960-1962: Live-action backing. On National Velvet, the logo is placed on the background of the credits. Then the logo disappears in an iris out effect while the show's title (in quote marks) is appears in an iris in effect.
- September 19, 1961-May 15, 1962: On Cain's Hundred, the logo is placed in the background used from the show's credits. Another version has the lion's face off-center. The same effect is used for the first season of Dr. Kildare, with Blair General Hospital in the background, as well as season two of National Velvet.
- 1962-May 16, 1966: Gray wallpaper backing (on black & white shows).
- 1965-1973: Red wallpaper backing.
- 1965-1973: Pink/butter yellow wallpaper backing.
- December 18, 1966: Brown wallpaper backing. This appeared only on Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
FX/SFX: Leo roaring.
- 1960-1961: A three note drum sound followed by dramatic fanfare played by a trumpet, synced to the animation of the lion roaring: the audio of the roar is replaced by a loud vibration of a muted trumpet as part of the fanfare. On National Velvet, this is followed by a 3-note loud trumpet theme when the show's title is wiped on-screen.
- The ending music to the show plays throughout on some series; on others there is silence while Leo is roaring.
Music/Sounds/Voice-over Variant: On a re-run of The Asphalt Jungle, a voice-over said: "The Asphalt Jungle, A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Television Production".
- It appeared on Dr. Kildare, The Travels of Jamie McPheeters (which starred Kurt Russell and the Osmonds), The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Please Don't Eat the Daisies, and Medical Center, among others.
- It survives on the Dr. Seuss cartoon specials How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (plastered by the Warner Bros. Pictures logo on NBC broadcasts) and Horton Hears a Who!, and was also seen on reruns of The Tom and Jerry Show on Boomerang during the 2000s. It is also preserved on TBS airings and the MGM/UA Home Video release of the former special.
- Most MGM TV series from this era are now owned by Warner Bros. Television (via parent company Time Warner's acquisition of Turner Entertainment Co.), so many current prints of these shows have the 1987 Turner Entertainment Globe and the Warner Bros. Television "Shield" logos, following the MGM Television logo, while series not owned by Time Warner (such as the original Flipper) may have it replaced with the 2001 or MGM Domestic Television Distribution logos.
- This logo was last seen on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on Heroes & Icons, which the network stopped airing it in August 2017.
Editor's Note: As with other MGM logos, the lion's roar has frightened some young viewers, and the trumpet vibrations on the 1960-62 fanfare may have a similar effect. But other viewers who grew up seeing this logo at the time, or on repeats of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, may view it fondly. Generally, it's regarded as a memorably distinct variant of the famous MGM lion logo. On the other note, the 1965 version looks more like Leo's head was pasted onto another Lion's body.
3rd Logo (October 9, 1973-1991)
Nicknames: "Leo the Lion II", "White Ribboning"
Logo: Same as the 1957 film logo, but the word "TELEVISION" is added under the logo.
- 1973-1982: A short version of the movie logo of the era.
- 1979-1983: The word "TELEVISION" appears during this era. It's almost similar to the MGM theatrical cartoon logo.
- 1983-1991: Referred to as "MGM/UA Entertainment Co. TELEVISION". Kids Incorporated used this one until 1991. One episode of Thicke of the Night has a still of the logo superimposed on the background.
- May 10, 1986-April 20, 1987: Another short variant of the movie logo, with the word "TELEVISION" in white.
FX/SFX: Leo roaring, as usual.
Music/Sounds: Just the lion's roar.
- On the '70s reruns of Northwest Passage, it used the 1957 first two lion roars. On the 2nd lion roar, there is a male announcer's voice-over that says, "From the MGM Studios in Hollywood".
- On the TV movie The Fifth Missile, it used an abridged version of the 1982 lion roar.
- On a few Hungarian TV prints of Daktari, the 1979 logo featured various roars from the 2nd logo, due to sloppy plastering.
- The earlier variant was seen intact on Shaft: The Series, Logan's Run, and earlier episodes of CHiPs. This version also plastered over the previous logo on a reissue print of the Dr. Seuss cartoon special Horton Hears a Who!, as featured on home video and Cartoon Network.
- When VH1 did a Fame marathon in 2001, all MGM logos were retained.
- The MGM/UA Entertainment Co. Television version is retained on Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater on Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu and VHS releases, The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission on VHS (and on DVD/Blu-Ray, in which can be found as a special feature on the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment DVD/Blu-Ray release of the original Dirty Dozen film), and seasons 3 and 5 of Fame last seen on nuvoTV (now Fuse).
- Currently seen on specific DVD releases such as CHiPs and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- The text with "TELEVISION" in white can be seen on most of the final season of Fame last seen on nuvoTV (now Fuse).
- The 1979 variant appeared on late-70s/early-80s reruns of Daktari, which were shown on the Hungarian network Duna in the 2000s.
- It was also seen on Encore Drama airings of the TV movie Cry for the Strangers (1982).
Editor's Note: This logo and its successors are all variations of the well-known theatrical MGM lion logo, which despite occasionally frightening young viewers with its roaring, is overall regarded as one of the all-time classic logos.
4th Logo (September 4, 1975-October 23, 1975)
Logo: Just a scrolling in-credit variant with the then-current MGM print logo (the "modernized Leo") in yellow, the name "MGM" in a yellow Optima medium font below said logo, and "TELEVISION" in Melior italic font directly below that.
Music/Sounds: Just the closing theme of The Montefuscos, with the audience applauding (most likely canned) as the theme plays.
Availability: Extinct. Was seen only on the closing credits of the very short-lived NBC sitcom The Montefuscos, which was one of the first casualties of the 1975-76 TV season. Although there is one extant episode on You Tube, posted by former child actor Rob Arbitelle (who appeared in the show as one of the grandchildren), it is currently unknown whether or not the remaining videotapes of The Montefuscos still survive (in which case the show would lie with Warner Bros. Television/Turner Entertainment Co.), or if NBC "wiped" (erased) said tapes of the program to use for other shows.
5th Logo (September 6, 1980-June 15, 1984)
Nicknames: "Leo the Lion III", "Gold Ribboning"
Logo: It's basically a still picture of MGM/UA's then-corporate logo. Below "Entertainment Co.", which is separated from the MGM/UA text by two lines, is "Television Distribution": it's in the same font and uses the same style as the "Entertainment Co." text, and it's spaced below the aforementioned text.
Music/Sounds: A re-arranged version of the 1982 United Artists Television theme, followed by the 1957 roar. Otherwise, it has the show's closing music or it's silent.
Availability: Extremely rare.
- It's preserved on Gilligan's Planet and The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show from Filmation.
- It was also seen on the syndicated program Thicke of the Night.
Editor's Note: None.
6th Logo (September 29, 1984-2012)
Nicknames: "Leo the Lion IV", "Gold Ribboning II"
Logo: Same as the 1973 logo, but this time, the ribboning is gold and Leo is in a golden color.
- 1984-1985: Company identified as MGM/UA Entertainment Co. Television. "DIAMOND JUBILEE (in an arc above the ribbon) SIXTY YEARS OF GREAT ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION" (all in silver) is used in the 1984-85 season.
- 1986-1987: Another variation existed having the 1979 MGM Television logo all in gold. Used during the MGM Entertainment Co. era.
- 1987-1993: The company is identified as "MGM/UA Television Productions, An MGM/UA Communications Company". The ribboning is now gold from this point on. At least one episode of Thirtysomething has a freeze of the logo.
- April 27, 1987-1993: The syndication division is now ID'ed as "MGM/UA Telecommunications". The words "Distributed by" appear above the logo and the MGM/UA byline appears below.
- 1991-2009: A short version of the movie design without anything below. Appears in either black & white or color in 1996.
- 1989-1992: A version reads "MGM/UA" without a byline. Seen on the final season of The Young Riders, the short-lived show Against the Law and several network made-for-TV movies.
- 1993-1996: The company is reverted back to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, along with the byline "MGM Worldwide Television Group" or "MGM/UA Telecommunications Group" underneath the logo. For In the Heat of the Night, there is a byline that says "In The Heat Of The Night" Property Of United Artists".
- 1996-2005: The syndication division is referred to as "MGM Domestic Television Distribution", along with the 1995 lion roar track. The global arm is referred to as "MGM Worldwide Television Group". In 2002, the widescreen version of MGM DTD begins.
- 1995-2009: Same as the above logo but with the byline below it simply blacked out, meaning it's essentially the movie logo but shifted upward. Appears in either black & white or color, and with one roar or two.
- 1997-2004: Network arm referred to as "MGM Television Entertainment".
- 1999-2009: Referred to as "MGM International Television Distribution" for global distribution.
- 2001-2009: A short version of then-current movie logo with the URL, "www.mgm.com" below the logo using only part one of the lion roar.
- 2005-2009, January 10, 2011-2012: Referred to as "MGM Worldwide Television Distribution" for US.
- 2002-2003: The logo is superimposed on Fox Box's airings of Stargate Infinity, due to split screen credits.
FX/SFX: Leo roaring, as usual.
Music/Sounds: There are different sound bites of the lion's roar:
- 1984-1996: The last lion roar from the 1957-1982 lion roar.
- 1991-1992: The first lion roar sound from the 1982 lion roar.
- 1991-1999: The last lion roar sound from the 1985 lion roar or the 1957 lion roar.
- 1996-2009: The first lion roar sound from the 1995 lion roar.
- A long version exists on cable broadcasts of Holiday Heart, Rocky V, The Terminator, At Close Range and Delirious. Only appears on the MGM Domestic Television Distribution variant or the 1995 variant.
- There is also a silent version on Soul Plane. MGM Domestic Television Distribution only.
- Original airings used a generic theme and occasionally a voiceover.
- Half of Leo's first roar is used for the warped version.
- On the freeze variant found on thirtysomething, a shortened version of the 1957 roar is used.
- On Microcops, aired as part of CBS Summer Playhouse in 1989, the lion makes a "Whoop, whoop, whoop!" sound.
- On a April 2003 UPN airing of Under Fire (1983), the Domestic Television Distribution logo plays in warp speed.
- On the DVD release of the TV movie Moving Target (1988), the first half of the 1995 roar is heard over the MGM/UA Television Productions logo. On the Spanish audio track, the second half is used.
- The 2001 opening variant sometimes uses the 1982 roar, which can be seen on season 2 of Dead Like Me.
Availability: Very common.
- Common for MGM Domestic, Worldwide, International Television Distribution and with and without the MGM URL and they can be found on then-current shows like the 2008 revival of American Gladiators on NBC, the short-lived Spaceballs: The Animated Series on the now defunct G4 network, and syndicated shows like Stargate: SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, The Outer Limits, Reno 911!, and Chappelle's Show, among others.
- Extremely rare for MGM/UA Telecommunications and it's seen on the 1985 version of The Twilight Zone on MeTV (right before the CBS Television Distribution logo). Rare for MGM Worldwide Television Group and it's found on the final season of In the Heat of the Night on NewsNation (before they updated the prints to 16:9 HD masters with the 2010 MGM Worldwide Television Distribution logo).
- It's also global wise on all MGM and NBC series.
- The MGM/UA Television Productions variation is extremely rare and was recently seen on Moving Target on DVD and Amazon Prime, season 6 of In the Heat of the Night on NewsNation (but not on getTV or MeTV) before they updated the prints, and appears on the '90s revival of Dark Shadows on VHS from MPI Home Video.
- The 1986 logo is extinct and was seen on Kids Incorporated.
- The version with just the "MGM/UA" text can be found on the TV movie Fatal Memories, among others.
- The warped version of the 2001 logo is very rare and only seen so far on the pilot of the '90s revival of Dark Shadows only on Chiller.
- The long version of MGM Domestic Television Distribution is on the beginning of old cable broadcasts of Rocky V and a VHS print of Holiday Heart, among others.
- The 1996 logo was seen on the first two seasons of the All Dogs Go to Heaven television series, with the long International Television Distribution logo appearing on the third season; both logos are retained on digital prints as well as the 2013 DVD release from TGG Direct.
- Most of these logos can also be seen on ThisTV.
- The logo is also seen on First Business and off-net reruns of Cash Cab.
- The Diamond Jubilee Television variant is rare and can be seen on the 1984-1985 season of Fame last seen on Ovation TV.
- On Fame on Hulu, the older logos are replaced by the 1996 logo.
- The Domestic version was seen as an opening logo on the TV movie Body & Soul on DVD.
- It's also last seen at the end of the closing credits on pre-national Me-TV reruns of Cagney & Lacey, plastering both the Filmways logo (Season 1) and the Orion Television logo (Season 2-onward), although a few episodes retain the latter logo, followed by this logo.
- The logo also appeared at the end of It's About Time, last seen on the now-defunct Light TV network.
- The bylineless 1995 logo appears at the end of late-90s prints of MGM-owned movies from the time period on VHS or DVD. Also appears at the beginning of the TV movies Silver Strand and Escape Clause (at least on the UK VHS releases of both, and also on Paramount+ prints of the latter).
Editor's Note: None.
7th Logo (2009-2012)
Nicknames: "Leo the Lion V", "Metallic Ribboning"
Logo: It's only the short version of the 2008 closing theatrical logo with either of these texts below: "MGM Worldwide Television Distribution" for the United States, "MGM International Television Distribution" for overseas distribution, the MGM URL, or none, just like the last logo except the company name below the logo is in a different font. Again, Leo roars once, sometimes twice.
Later Variant: In 2010, it's the November 2008 MGM logo with the name "MGM WORLDWIDE TELEVISION DISTRIBUTION" or "DISTRIBUTED BY MGM DISTRIBUTION CO." in all capital letters.
FX/SFX: Leo roaring. Both variants are designed by Pacific Title.
- 2009-2010: The same first half of the 2008 lion roar.
- 2009-2012: The same first half of the 1995 lion roar.
- On some episodes of Pink Panther and Pals, the 1995 roar have a reverb effect.
- It was first seen on First Business, before they apparently reverted back to the previous logo soon after.
- This can also be seen at the end of several classic new prints of MGM movies on local networks and cable broadcasts, especially seen on classic 007 movies (mainly the Roger Moore era) that were aired on Sleuth, WGN America, USA, and G4, among other networks, several Rocky films on the Encore networks, as well on international prints of non-MGM shows and movies (such as those copyrighted by NBC Studios for Universal Television).
- Don't expect to see this logo at the end of Stargate Universe on Syfy. It does, however, appear on local TV and Netflix airings.
- This also seen on Pink Panther and Pals on Boomerang (alongside KidsClick and Amazon Prime) and the first two seasons of Teen Wolf on MTV.
- It's also seen on reruns of In the Heat of the Night on WGN America, while the credits are compressed on the right.
Editor's Note: None.
8th Logo (November 19, 2012-)
Nicknames: "Leo the Lion VI", "Zooming Ribboning", "Metallic Ribboning II", "MGM 2012", "Animated Ribbon"
Logo: We start with the MGM logo fully revealed and zooming out, but with the words "MGM TELEVISION" in Trajan Pro, zooming out below along with the logo. The whole animation zooms out fast. Sometimes the words below are exempt. This logo was designed by Shine.
FX/SFX: The logo and words zooming out, and Leo roaring.
Music/Sounds: The same first half of the 1995 lion roar.
- A Light airing of The Pink Panther 2 has the 2008 roar track.
- Original airings used a generic theme and occasionally a voiceover.
- This was first seen on Spike's print of Red Dawn (1984).
- This also seen on broadcast TV airings on some episodes of Cash Cab and films part of the Showcase Theater package.
- This can also be found on other shows such as Vikings, The Handmaid's Tale (2017) and Fargo.
- The version without the words below was seen (from June 2013 to 2016) on Right This Minute, before Disney-ABC took over. This was also found at the beginning of MGM's clips, trailers and compilations on MGM's YouTube channel.
- It is currently seen on former productions from United Artists Media Group, such as Shark Tank, The Voice, The Apprentice UK, 500 Questions, and Survivor.
- This logo can also be spotted on Beat Shazam.
- It can also be seen at the closing of early episodes of Clarice on CBS, following the CBS Studios logo.
- New prints of the original American Gladiators have this too, as seen on Charge! and Pluto TV.
- With the new logo being introduced, this logo's days could be numbered.
Editor's Note: None.
9th Logo (April 29, 2021-)
Nicknames: "Leo the Lion VII", "Zooming Ribboning II", "Metallic Ribboning III", "MGM 2021", "Animated Ribbon II", "CGI Leo"
Logo: A shortened version of MGM's 2021 logo, starting when Leo the Lion appears, and with the golden text "TELEVISION" in a font similar to the third logo appearing below the logo. Leo roars once.
Variant: A scope version exists.
FX/SFX: Same as the 2021 MGM logo, animated by Baked Studios. This logo has a much different form-up animation compared to its theatrical counterpart.
Music/Sounds: Same as the previous logo.
- First appeared on The Big Shot with Bethenny and started appearing on Clarice beginning with the eighth episode.
- It also appears on The Handmaid's Tale starting with S4 E6, as well as The Celebrity Apprentice Australia, From, Vikings: Valhalla and Last Light.
- It's expected to be seen on future shows from the company.
Editor's Note: Like its theatrical counterpart, the CGI Leo could take some time to get used to, even by those who prefer the previous logos. It also should be worth noting that the 2021 logo debuted on TV, four months before the theatrical logo followed suit.