The "King of the Jungle" once had a special place at Melanie Griffith's house.
When the now 57-year-old actress was 14, she resided at the Sherman Oaks, California-home of her mother, actress Tippi Hedren, and her stepfather at the time, Noel Marshall, where the family pet was a lion named Neil. Vintage photographs of the star and her famous mom bonding with the lion at home were originally published in Life magazine and have resurfaced.
The 1971 images show the teen was incredibly comfortable around the animal, even taking a nap and playing in the swimming pool with him. Griffith's mom — who filmed Alfred Hitchcock's iconic film The Birds just eight years before the photos were snapped — also goofed off with the jungle cat.
Neil came to live with the family after Hedren and Marshall, while filming in Africa, discovered an abandoned house filed with lions. They decided they wanted to make a movie about lions and, upon the advice of an animal trainer prepping them for the job, began bringing the animals into their home, starting with Neil.
The family eventually did make the film Roar, although it wasn't released until the early '80s. And the filming, which included about 150 wild animals, was rough.
In an April 1982 interview with the U.K.'s The Guardian to promote Roar, Griffith explained how she got her face, as the newspaper called it, "torn open." The future Oscar nominee had 50 stitches as a result.
"[The lion] didn't mean to hurt me," Griffith explained. "Just, after seven years growing up with the lions I forgot you have to be careful. You can never be sure you're safe and just a blow can pop your head like a ping pong ball."
The piece noted that in the making of the movie, "None of the animals were hurt, but most of the humans wound up in hospital."
Griffith's famous mother, now 85 and long divorced from Marshall, was so touched by her experiences with wild animals that she founded animal sanctuary Shambala Preserve to care for mistreated and neglected animals in Acton, CA, in 1972. The preserve is operated by Hedren's Roar Foundation, whose website names Griffith as a member of its advisory board.