Paramount's logo has given millions a peek at Ogden peak

Published: Monday, Sept. 8 2008 1:08 a.m. MDT

Cal Hadley takes in the view from the top of Ben Lomond Peak after a hike this past August.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

What is the most "paramount" mountain in Utah?

How about Timpanogos Peak, Kings Peak, Mount Nebo, Mount Olympus. Lone Peak or Twin Peaks?

It's none of the above because one of Hollywood's most familiar images — the famous Paramount Pictures logo — was inspired by Weber County's Ben Lomond Peak.

As such, Ben Lomond — not even the highest summit in Weber County — may be the most famous mountain in the Beehive State.

The peak is given credit for prompting creation of the majestic but fictional mountain in the popular Paramount design, based on two histories of the motion-picture company.

According to Leslie Halliwell's "Mountain of Dreams," a biography of Paramount, founder William Hodkinson grew up in Ogden and the logo was "a memory of childhood in his home state of Utah."

Marvin Jones, who wrote the official history of Paramount on the paramount.com Web site, says, "Paramount now traces its history back to the 1912 formation of Adolph Zukor's Famous Players Film Company, but the Paramount Pictures Corporation name was first used by a film distribution company founded by William W. Hodkinson and other independent exhibitors in May of 1914. Paramount financed and distributed the product of Zukor's Famous Players, Jesse L. Lasky's Feature Play Company, and other producers.

"It was Hodkinson who first designed the Paramount logo in 1914. Legend has it that he doodled an image of a star-crested mountain on a napkin during a meeting with Adolph Zukor. It was an image he remembered of a mountain peak from his childhood in Ogden, Utah."

Any visitor to downtown Ogden will agree Ben Lomond is the dominant mountain there. Hence, there's little reason not to accept Ben Lomond as the inspiration for Paramount.

Some have wondered if Mount Ogden, the most dominant peak east of Ogden, could have been the Paramount inspiration instead. Mount Ogden does look pretty impressive in its own right when viewed from North Ogden or Pleasant View, but not from Ogden, where the Paramount founder was raised.

"If it is a real mountain at all, however, it is almost certainly 9,712-foot-high Ben Lomond Peak in the Wasatch Range near Ogden, as any Utah tour guide worth his salt will tell you," Jones wrote. "Even if Hodkinson meant it to be a generic mountain, Ben Lomond is a conspicuous landmark in the Ogden area and would have figured prominently in his conception."

Also, according to the Paramount Web site, the logo is the oldest studio logo still in use, predating the MGM lion.

"I think this is a really cool piece of trivia and is a great testament to the incredible setting Ogden is blessed with," Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey said. "I think it really does demonstrate that we are destined to be the mecca of outdoor recreation when our mountains inspire people the way it did here."

Diana Hadley of North Ogden went to the top of Ben Lomond Peak in August. She said that for her, Ben Lomond is a landmark — especially when she flies into the Salt Lake International Airport, she looks for this mountain to the north.

"This is a spectacular thing," she said.

Dan and Kerrie Tippets of Roy also scaled Ben Lomond Peak this summer. "I love it. It's amazing," she said.

Casey Annagay of Ogden described the view on top of Ben Lomond as breathtaking during a visit this summer.


E-mail: lynn@desnews.com

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