Ever wondered what Oscar-winning composers, Irish lions, cocktail napkins and the Illuminati have in common? No, it's not what you're thinking (weirdo). They were, in fact, all somehow involved in the creation of five of the most recognizable movie-studio logos ever to grace the silver screen.
According to Hollywood legend, the Paramount logo was first scrawled on the back of a napkin in 1914, by company founder William Hodkinson, aka "The Man Who Invented Hollywood." A Utah native, it is long believed that it was based on his recollections of Ben Lomond mountain, although later filmed versions used Peru's Artesonraju peak.
Of course, this could all just be misdirection at the hands of the Illuminati, who some conspiracy theorists apparently believe are behind the success of the studio, thanks to its pyramid-like logo.
Keep reading for more Hollywood history.
First formed in 1924, MGM is always remembered for "Leo the Lion," a movie logo originally used by Goldwyn Pictures. Designed by Howard Dietz as a tribute to his university football team
, the first logo used an Irish lion named Slats
, whose famous hide
is currently hanging on the second floor of the McPherson Museum in Kansas.
MGM'S second lion, Jackie
, was used from 1928–1956, although being in black and white, he was largely replaced during this period with third lion Tanner
, who appeared on all Technicolor movies from 1934–1956.
These two were followed by George
, an overly hairy and slightly odd-looking beast who only lasted two years. Since 1958, MGM has used Leo
, who, despite the fact that he has shorter hair than his fellow MGM cats, is the longest-running lion of the lot.
20th Century Fox
Way back in 1935, Twentieth Century Pictures merged with the more established Fox Film Corporation, and a legend was born.
Since Twentieth Century Pictures had the snazzier logo
of the two, they simply replaced the word "Pictures" with "Fox", and left it otherwise untouched. Even the music -- despite now being known as the "Fox fanfare" -- was originally from the Twentieth Century Pictures logo. It was written two years earlier by Alfred Newman, a nine-time Oscar-winning film composer whose other work you might just recognize
The logo itself was designed by revered landscape painter Emil Kosa Jr., who also created the matte painting used in one of cinema's most enduring images: the ruined Statue of Liberty from Planet of the Apes. History does not record what he thought of this version
Of all the studios, Warner is the most happy to screw with its 87-year-old logo. First and foremost are the constant updates to the WB shield (on its 11th version since 1923), which have ranged from the virtually identical to the totally unrecognizable. (Logo number 9, 1972–1984, we're looking at you
More noticeable to the average film fan are the changes tailored for specific movies. From the girly, flowing font used for "My Fair Lady" to the fight between Bugs and Daffy at the start of "Gremlins 2: The New Batch
," the Warner sign has been through a lot.
Notable recent examples are the shield's transformation into the Batman logo for "Batman Forever" (arguably the only watchable bit of the movie); the unusual green version used for "The Matrix"
; and the scribbles that turned it into a monster's face for last year's "Where the Wild Things Are."
The second-oldest studio (losing out to Paramount by just one month), now known for its famous spinning globe, went without a logo from its creation in 1912 until the 1920s (when the globe would sometimes appear at the end of the movie).
Fondly remembered for the 1930s version that featured a plane circling the Earth
, it has been updated several times since, including the 1940s version that looked and sounded for all the world as though Superman was about to smash his way out of the screen