Tippi Hendren’s Lions!
Tippie Hendren may not have been a fan of the birds (while filming the notorious Hitchcock classic, she reported she was pelted with live birds on a soundstage for a full day). Tippi Hendren mainly loved lions.
On a shoot in Africa, Hendren became most fascinated with a pride that claimed an abandoned building in the middle of the veldt. Upon returning home, her and agent hubby Noel Marshall set out to make a feature film entirely starring lions.
Trying to cast fifty lions, they were informed that one does not just assemble a pride, lest they turn on each other (or any nearby humans). They would have to rear a pride of their own to get a “cast” that would work together. They were introduced to Neil, a human-friendly lion, they could care for 4-5 days of the week.
While the whole family lived amicably with their adoptee, neighbours began complaining and authorities cracking down. The family relocated to Soledad Canyon to raised their lions in private and eventually make their film.
"Roar" (1981) was an epic disaster: costing $17.5 million to make and only grossing $2 million in return, the experience also resulted in many severe injuries (daughter Melanie Griffith was mauled by a lioness and required 50 stitches to the face; the cinematographer was literally scalped when a lion gnawed on his head). The experience also resulted in the dissolution of Hendren’s marriage.
Still loyal to her lions, who could not be privately owned post-production, Hendren founded the Shambala Preserve which cares for over 50 big cats in California. Among her wards were Togar (featured in the Life spread shown) - Togar was adopted from Church of Satan founder Anton Levey after he discovered he was prohibited from keeping a lion as a house pet. She also took on Michael Jackson’s tigers Thriller and Sabu after his passing.
A wild story that could only happen in La-La-land, Tippi Hendren remains a huge benefactress of big kitties and runs the non-profit Shambala Preserve to date.