Actress Melanie Griffith’s childhood must have been wild, or at any rate wilder than mine or yours. As the images below show, her pet wasn’t a dog or a cat, but a huge male lion, named Neil.
Pictured in 1971, the 14-year-old Griffith and the enormous Neil are seen playing together, lounging by the pool and even in the bed — the same things you would do with a smaller feline.
Neil’s adoption by the Griffith family was somewhat bizarre, we learn. It happened after after the lion’s previous owner Anton Lavey, no less than a High Priest of the Church of Satan, who was told that he could no longer keep him in his San Francisco apartment.
The Griffiths took Neil home after they returned from Africa and decided to make a movie about lions — Roar — which took 11 years to complete.
Roar was a flop but the family kept Neil. These amazing pictures were first published in LIFE Magazine. Griffith was the daughter of Hitchcock muse Tippi Hedren, who is also seen in the images, along with her then-husband Noel Marshall, a Hollywood agent.
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