These Photos Of A Teenage Melanie Griffith And Her Pet Lion In The 1970s Are Quite Something

The actress’s family adopted the wild cat, named Neil, back in 1971.

Updated — Oct. 11, 12:04 p.m. ET:

2. Actress Melanie Griffith lived with a pet lion in the early 1970s when she was a teenager. And now photos have emerged of their amazing home life together.

When Griffith was a teenager, her actress mother, Tippi Hedren, and her stepfather, director Noel Marshall, decided they wanted to make a film about big cats after returning from a trip to Africa and seeing them in person. An animal trainer suggested they get to know them better by living with a lion, so they ended up taking Neil into their home.

3. And these are the amazing photos documenting their time together. This is a teenage Griffith hanging out with Neil in the family swimming pool in Sherman Oaks, California.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

4. And this is Neil grabbing and attempting to bite her leg as she jumps in the water.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

5. Her mother also bonded with the lion.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

6. But it wasn’t just the pool Neil was allowed to spend time in, as these photos, which first appeared in Life magazine, show.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

7. Here’s Griffith lying in bed with him in May 1971.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

8. And Hedren, who was famed for such Hitchcock movies as The Birds, using him as a cushion as she reads a newspaper.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

9. They even play-wrestled on the living-room rug.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

10. And also combined the two.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

11. They let Neil into the kitchen.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

12. Like so.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

13. As if it were the most normal thing in the world.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

14. And even Marshall’s study wasn’t safe.

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

15. <3

The LIFE Picture Collection/Gett Michael Rougier

16. Hedren later started The Roar Foundation, a preserve in California where the lion could live, with the goal at educating on “the dangers of private ownership of exotic animals.”

But the family’s life with lions did hit a speed bump, when Griffith was hurt after her face was attacked by a lioness on the set of the movie Roar.

The whole family appeared in the film, which took 11 years to make, with Griffith playing the on-screen daughter.

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Kimberley Dadds is the UK celebrity editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.
 
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