MGM’s Leo the Lion Gets His Paws Dirty to Celebrate 90th Anniversary

MGM's Gary Barber and Sylvester Stallone also on hand for paw print ceremony

Leo the Lion at the paw print ceremony celebrating MGM's 90th anniversary at the TCL Chinese Theatre
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Leo the Lion became the first studio icon and wild animal to place his paw prints into the cement at the TCL Chinese Theatre Wednesday morning.

On hand to commemorate the 90th anniversary of MGM Studios, Leo, known for his signature roar at the start of each MGM film, was joined by Chairman and CEO Gary Barber and Rocky Balboa himself, Sylvester Stallone.

After an introduction by the TCL Chinese’s Alwyn Hight Kushner, Barber spoke about the company’s history and the many stars who have contributed to MGM’s legacy, including Stallone, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor. Barber also called attention to the fact that MGM is the only studio with back-to-back billion dollar films, thanks to the success of 2012’s “Skyfall” and “The Hobbit.”

“It’s an out-of-body experience and a true honor to represent this legacy of MGM,” Barber said. “When you look into history, there are some unbelievable pictures that have really, truly represented the cinematic experience,” he continued.

Stallone expressed his gratitude to MGM for giving him a once in a lifetime opportunity and supporting his vision.

“I owe everything in the world to the studio because they were the ones who took a chance on me when, with ‘Rocky,’ I wasn’t willing to take a chance on myself,” Stallone explained. “They saw something in the product, which is the screenplay, and that’s what opened the door.”

When it came time for Leo’s big moment, the crowd was silenced as the lion performed his duties, posed for photographers and quickly exited the scene.

This paw print ceremony marks the launch of MGM’s yearlong global campaign in honor of the studio’s legacy and impressive history. A special 90th anniversary trailer will play in theaters and on MGM channels as well as on DVD products and social media.

Fans can also view MGM’s classic film moments on its Tumblr website, the first of its kind to feature a studio’s full library.