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Tippi Hedren is known for two things: acting and big cats. The star of Hitchcock’s Marnie and The Birds became infatuated with the exotic animals while working on the film Roar—a production that was famously disaster-prone, resulting in numerous injuries for Hedren, her family members, and the crew—and began rescuing lions and tigers.
To this day, Hedren lives on the Shambala Preserve, the animal sanctuary she established in Acton, California. And yes, the 90-year-old still has big cats there. Her granddaughter, Dakota Johnson, confirmed the details in a recent interview on The Graham Norton Show.
“She has 13 or 14,” Johnson said. “There used to be like 60 cats, and now there’s just a couple.” She added, “By the time I was born they were all in huge compounds and it was a lot safer. It wasn’t as totally psycho as it was when they first started.”
The “totally psycho” living situation was documented in Life in 1971. The photographs reveal how a certain lion named Neal enjoyed coexisting with Hedren’s family, sometimes sharing a bed or hanging out poolside with them.
“It is what it is,” Johnson said of the photos, after Norton showed them to the audience. Her mother, Melanie Griffith, “didn’t lose the leg,” she added. (In one of the images from the photo shoot, Griffith’s leg is dangerously close to Neal’s open jaw.) Check out Johnson’s full interview below.
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As for how Hedren’s faring in quarantine, the actress recently told Fox News that she’s doing just fine in her home on the reserve, and keeping in touch with her daughter and granddaughter over the phone. “My only routine is no routine at all,” Hedren explained. “I wake up every morning with Johnny Depp next to me—my cat, should that need explaining. His predecessors were Marlon Brando, Robert Taylor and Sean Connery. After that, I read or watch TV, but not a lot of news.”
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