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c. 1971

When “The Birds” star Tippi Hedren lived with lions

Daughter Melanie Griffith (a.k.a Dakota Johnson's mom) also hung out with Neil, the family pet

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American actress and animal activist Tippi Hedren reads a newspaper as she leans against her pet lion Neil at home in California.
Michael Rougier/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Actress Tippi Hedren became obsessed with lions after a chance encounter in 1969.  On a location shoot in Africa, she and her husband, Noel Marshall, were shown a derelict building which had become home to a pride of the beasts. The couple found the experience so compelling that they felt compelled to devote their next cinematic project entirely to lions.

It was a project that would take more than a decade.

Not content with making a film about lions, the two wanted to work with lions. Advised by an animal trainer that the only way to get to understand lions was to live with the creatures, Tippi and Noel brought a lion to live with them in their ranch in California.

The resulting film—Roar—was released more than ten years later, in 1981. Its working title had been Lions, Lions and More Lions and the production had cost $17.5 million. It grossed $2 million. The film featured Hedren’s daughter by her first marriage, Melanie Griffith, also pictured here. She was attacked by a lioness during filming, and received 50 stitches in her face to repair the damage.

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The following year, Hedren and Marshall split up. Hedren turned the family ranch into an animal sanctuary, where she still lives.

1971
Tippi Hedren reading a newspaper with Neil the pet lion next to her.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Noel Marshall working in his study while Neil the pet lion roars.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Hedren in a swimming pool while Neil looks on.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
A close-up of Neil with Hedren.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
A housekeeper stepping over a lion.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Neil curling up with teenager Melanie Griffith.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
A child, possibly one of Marshall’s sons, and Neil by the pool.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Melanie Griffith holds on to Neil.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Griffith jumps into the pool while Neil grabs her leg.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Hederen sunbathing near the pool, with Neil by her side.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Marshall in his office while Neil leans on the desk.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Hederen and Neil check out the fridge.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Tippi wrestling with Neil.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images
1971
Neil and Griffith hanging out.
Michael Rougier / The Life Picture Collection / Getty Images

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