RKO PicturesThis is a featured page

Logo descriptions by Nicholas Aczel, Sean Beard, Logophile and OZ_Paramount87
Logo captures by Eric S. and others
Video captures courtesy of Logic Smash, DudeThatLogo, Peakpasha, thesafekind, simblos, JeiceTheWarrior, MyNewBrycelsIsHere2012, Austin Alexander and mcydodge919

Background: RKO was originally founded by RCA to promote their RCA Photophone sound system. The initials in the company name stand for "Radio Keith Orpheum", reflecting the joint venture of RCA, the Keith Orpheum theater circuit, and Joseph P. Kennedy's Film Booking Office. RKO still exists today, but only makes sporadic films.

RKO Radio Pictures

1st Logo (Opening Logo)

Radio Pictures (1929)RKO Radio Pictures - CLG WikiRadio Pictures ItalyLa RKO Radio FilmsRKO Radio Picture (1951)RKO Radio Pictures - CLG Wiki
RKO Radio Pictures (Color)RKO Radio Pictures (1946)RKO (1955)RKO Radio Picture in Cinemascope
RKO Radio Picture (Colorized)RKO Radio Pictures (1939, Opening)
Nicknames: "The Transmitter", "The Globe and Tower" (according to the RKO Pictures, LLC website http://www.rko.com)

Logo: On a cloudy background we see a radio tower situated on top of a rotating Earth globe. The radio tower is sending out signals illustrated by lightning bolts and sound waves coming from its transmitter. The text "A Radio Picture" (1929-1936) or "An RKO Radio Picture" (1936-1956) writes itself on the logo in a "thunderbolt" font.

  • The Morse code heard on the logo transmitted this message: VVVV AN RKO RADIO PICTURE VVVV.
  • This logo was featured as a background of a stage during a scene from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

  • RKO teamed with France-based production company Pathé in 1929 to produce theatrical newsreels under the name RKO-Pathé Newsreels, which lasted until 1950. These featured a logo variation in which the Pathé Rooster stood and crowed in place of the transmitter on the rotating globe.
  • On Italian prints of RKO movies the globe and the tower are stationary, only the lightning bolts are animated, and "La Radio Pictures presenta" in the thunderbolt font simply fades in, covering the tower.
  • On early RKO color features and colorized films the logo was tinted blue; a true living color version of the logo was introduced around 1944.
  • Early Radio Pictures films had the globe less detailed and no clouds in front of the globe.
  • When RKO produced CINEMASCOPEand Superscope films, their logo was cropped to fit the screen, making it widescreen, and reanimated the lightning bolts to be more realistic.

FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: The rotating Earth globe, the lightning bolts, the sound waves; all primitive 1920s visual effects, but give them credit for trying.

Music/Sounds: A series of "morse code" beeps. In some cases, the morse code is replaced by the movie's opening music.

Availability: Very common. It's still seen on many RKO releases, but was often not shown at all on a few films, mainly all of the early Walt Disney films they released (they use the next logo below at the beginning, except for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which has no opening logo at all). The Radio Pictures logo is rare today and it's used on King Kong and Top Hat.

Scare Factor: Medium. It's one of the best-known logos, but the creepy "Morse code" transmission sound FX may cause some scares.

2nd Logo (Closing Logo)
Standard logos and their variants
RKO Radio Pictures (1950)RKO Radio Pictures (1939, Closing)RKO Radio Pictures (1948, Closing)RKO Radio Pictures (1951)RKO Radio Pictures (1951)
Radio Pictures (Colorized)RKO Radio Pictures - CLG WikiRadio Pictures
RKO Radio Picture (1949, Colorized)
Custom logos
RKO Radio Pictures (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)RKO Radio Pictures (Pinocchio)RKO Radio Pictures (Fantasia)RKO Pictures - CLG WikiRKO Radio Pictures (The Reluctant Dragon)
RKO Radio Pictures (Bambi)RKO Radio Pictures (Melody Time)
RKO Radio Pictures (Cinderella)RKO Radio Pictures - CLG WikiRKO Radio Pictures (Alice in Wonderland)
RKO Radio Pictures (Fun and Fancy Free)
RKO Radio PicturesRKO Radio Pictures (1953) (Peter Pan)

Nickname: "The Thunderbolt"

Logo: In the end titles of a film, we see an equilateral triangle pointing down with a "thunderbolt" drawn 3/4 through it. Above the logo is the text "Radio Pictures" (1929-1936) or "RKO Radio" with a line drawn over the triangle edge with the text "PICTURES" (1936-1956). The text "REG. US. PAT. OFF." is shown below.

  • The "Radio Pictures" variant had "THE END" displayed, which was wiped away to allow the Radio Pictures logo to be wiped in, which had a much scragglier thunderbolt design and a different font compared to the "RKO Radio" variant that followed.
  • A "Distributed by RKO Pictures" variant in color in various backgrounds appeared some pre-1953 Walt Disney films which RKO distributed (the byline was eliminated between 1940 and 1946), generally in the main titles instead of the end. Usually plastered with a Buena Vista Distribution Co. logo, but occasionally appears on a few cartoon shorts on the Disney Treasures DVD collection. The opening variant also appeared on Joan of Arc (1948), with text reading "AN RKO RADIO PICTURES, INC. RELEASE".
  • On Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the RKO logo appears at the end of the film and is put on a jewel background, with the words "A WALT DISNEY FEATURE Production" overlapping it, and "IN TECHNICOLOR" below it.

FX/SFX: None.

Cheesy Factor: The drawing looks quite ugly.

Music/Sounds: The closing score of a movie.

Availability: Common. It's still saved on every RKO release. However, not all pre-1953 Disney features (execpt for UA's "Victory through Air Power") are available with the RKO logo. It all depends on what print of the theatrical, home movie and 16mm, video, DVD, Blu-ray or laserdisc you can find. Some pre-'53 Disney films are prone to logo plastering, especially Bambi and Cinderella, as evidenced in the recent DVD/Blu-ray Diamond Edition of the former and the DVD Platinum Edition of the latter.

Scare Factor: Medium. The scary thunderbolt drawing may turn off a few.


RKO Teleradio Pictures


RKO General Productions

Background: This was a short-lived revival of RKO when it was owned by General Tire.

1st logo

Nickname: "Transmitter on Tube"

RKO General Presentation (1959)
To be announced

2nd Logo

RKO General ProductionsRKO General

Logo: On a white background we see a square outlined by the letters "RKO", each with different shades of blue. Undernea
th is the phase "GENERAL PRODUCTIONS" and under that in white is "IN ASSOCIATION WITH"

FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Very rare. Appeared on a print of Target For Killing.

Scare Factor: None


RKO Pictures

Background: RKO would eventually become a GenCorp company sometime around 1985.

1st Logo

RKO Pictures - CLG Wiki
Nicknames: "'80s Thunderbolt", "Cheesy Thunderbolt", ''Thunderbolt Triangle''

Logo: On a plain black background, a segmented white-lined rectangle with a cut on the left side and the text "RKO PICTURES" below emerges from the top of the screen, and moves down and curves up as if a roller coaster, zooming up to the center of the screen. We also see a red variant of the thunderbolt logo flipping up and growing in size as it lands below the cut on the rectangle in between "RKO" and "PICTURES."

Variants: Variations of this logo were used for other RKO general properties throughout the 1980s, such as RKO Television-owned local stations and RKO Nederlander, the Broadway production subsidiary. The syndication variant also had small text reading "DISTRIBUTED BY", which fades in above the rectangle to the left.

FX/SFX: The logo zooming and flipping effects.

Cheesy Factor: It's all cheap chyron and 1980s-standard zooming and flipping animations.

Music/Sounds: A synthesized tune with rising air and a "BOOM!" as the logo parts come together, followed by a gradual synthesized fade out.

Availability: Rare. It was only used as a distribution logo on television. Appears on What Price Hollywood and None but the Lonely Heart when aired on TCM. Regardless, video releases from RKO Home Video and The Nostalgia Merchant may include this logo at the end of such films like Isle of the Dead.

Scare Factor: Medium to high. The scary synth music and the animation effects may scare a few.

2nd Logo

RKO Radio Pictures - CLG WikiRKO Radio Pictures - CLG WikiRKO Pictures - CLG WikiRKO Pictures (1987)

: "'80s Transmitter"

  • Opening: The logo begins the same as in the first one. After a couple seconds, a segmented white-lined rectangle with a cut on the left side and the text "RKO PICTURES" appearing on opposite sides of the red thunderbolt triangle design emerges from the transmitter tip, and moves downward, zooming towards the lower third of the screen, then the background fades to black.
  • Closing: The closing logo of these movies is a still picture of the opening logo, with "An RKO Picture" in a "thunderbolt" font.

FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor
: The rotating Earth globe, the lightning bolts, the sound waves; plus the zooming thunderbolt triangle.

Music/Sounds: A series of "Morse code" beeps. The closing variant is silent.

Availability: Uncommon. It appeared on a few Paramount releases from that era, including Campus Man, Hamburger Hill, and Hot Pursuit.

Scare Factor: Medium. The creepy "Morse code" transmission sound FX may cause some scares. Low for the closing variant.

3rd Logo
(October 23, 1992)
RKO Pictures 1992
Logo: On a black background, the words "RELEASED THROUGH" appear on the top. Below is "RKO PICTURES DISTRIBUTION". The words are in blue.

FX/SFX: None.

Music/Sounds: None.

Availability: Extremely rare. The only known movie to use this logo is Frozen Assets.

Scare Factor: None.

4th Logo
RKO Pictures Distribution - Animated
Logo: On a black background is a box with a white border with the thunderbolt triangle at the bottom. Inside the box is the famous radio tower on earth. On
top the antenna "R", "K" and "O" appear one by one, in red and in its company font. Then "PICTURES" flies in and rests at the bottom of "RKO". Then "DISTRIBUTION" appears at the bottom at the top of the thunderbolt triangle.

FX/SFX: The earth, the company name appearing.

Music/Sounds: Along with the morse code beeps, a drumbeat is heard when each letter of "RKO" appears.

Availability: Extremely rare. Only known to appear on the American release of The Elegant Criminal.

Scare Factor: Medium, due to the morse code beeps.

5th Logo
RKO Pictures (2007)

Nicknames: "'90s Transmitter", "CGI Transmitter"

Logo: In this version, the sky background and Earth globe look more realistic. A bright light is seen on the transmitter tip of the radio tower situated on top of the rotating globe as the picture zooms outward. The radio tower then sends out signals illustrated by sound waves coming from its transmitter. The text "RKO PICTURES" fades in on top of the transmitter. "RKO" appears in a red "thunderbolt" font while "PICTURES" sports a more '30s-ish typeface below that.

FX/SFX/Cheesy Factor: The bright light, the sound waves; big improvement after their previous rendition. This was done by Studio Productions (now known as "Flip Your Lid Animation").

Music/Sounds: A triumphant fanfare with Morse code beeps at the end. Sometimes, the opening theme is heard.

Availability: Uncommon. It can be found on films such as Mighty Joe Young, The Magnificent Ambersons, Gin Game, Are We Done Yet?, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) and A Late Quartet.

Scare Factor: Minimal. Although a well-liked logo, the creepy "Morse code" transmission sound FX may still get to some people.

6th Logo
(2009- )

Nickname: "CGI Transmitter II"

Logo: We see the previous logo animating in reverse in black & white. As it zooms to the bright light, there is a thunderbolt that appears out of the light and it displays the letters "RKO" in silver lettering with a shine effect. The clouds later fade into a black background.

FX/SFX: The logo zooming into the light, "RKO" appearing.

Music/Sounds: Same as the last logo.

Availability: Can be seen on RKO's official website.

Scare Factor: Same as the 1997 logo.

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Keyword tags: RKO Radio Keith Orpheum
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