May 10, 2018

The Living Room Lion: Incredible Candid Photographs Capture Daily Life of "Blondie" and Her Family in Texas, 1955

In 1955, LIFE photographer Joseph Scherschel, who had made a career photographing everyone from JFK to Che Guevara, travelled to central Texas to find a family with an unusual pet.

Blondie, an African lioness who was purchased by oilman Charles Hipp from the Dallas Zoo, was enough of a usual sight around Graham, Texas, that word got around to one the most popular weekly magazines in the country.

The article in LIFE, titled "Living Room Lion – Blondie, A Docile 200-Pound Texan, Becomes A Member of the Family," gave readers a peek into the lives of the Hipp family's everyday lion-owning life.

Blondie, the pet lion, happily being petted by her neighbor friend Jane Johnson (R), 11, as other kids look on, in the back of Charles Hipp's station wagon, parked in front of his house.

Blondie daintily taking meat tidbits from the hand of her owner Charles Hipp as he sits a dinner table with his wife (L), daughter Charlene, his mother (C) and daughter Mrs. Juanita Evans (2R), holding his baby granddaughter Karen, at home.

Blondie fascinated by the water as she takes her first ride in a Chris Craft Continental inboard motorboat with owner Charles Hipp (R) who is making sure she doesn't have designs on taking a swim, on Possum Kingdom Lake.

Blondie looking pleased as her owner Charles Hipp places his baby granddaughter Karen on her back while his daughter Mrs. Juanita Evans (R) smiles and neighbor friend, Jane Johnson, 11, looks on, in living rm. at home.

Blondie momentarily pinned down by her owner Charles Hipp while roughhousing on their lawn at home.

Blondie looking bored during routine ride in station wagon past Graham Movie Theater with her owner Charles Hipp at the wheel.

Blondie getting cautiously petted by Life photographer Joe Scherschel while she is relaxing on lawn after he finished a photo sampling of this amazing beast's everyday life.

Blondie luxuriating in a good toweling off by her owner Charles Hipp after her refreshing shower bath, in bathroom at home.

Blondie, age 2, the pet lion of owner Charles Hipp who purchased her from the Dallas zoo when she was 1-month-old, tethered by a chain as it relaxes on the lawn at his home.

Blondie playfully putting the fang-in-the-fanny hold on her owner Charles Hipp who is smiling through some playful pain before prying her jaws open with his hands and fleeing into the house. (Nobody got hurt.)

Blondie, the pet lion, patiently allows her owner Charles Hipp to pour Tide detergent on her pelt which she loves to lick off and gulp down during her combination bath and shower, at home.

Blondie reveling in the shower spray of lukewarm water her owner Charles Hipp is directing on her pelt, at home.

Blondie, the living room lion.

Blondie giving a piggy back ride to young neighbor girl as its owner Charles Hipp keeps her in tow, in front of his home.

(Photos by Joseph Scherschel/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)




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