Dakota Johnson reveals grandmother Tippi Hedren, 90, still lives with '13 or 14' big cats

Hedren, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and "Marnie," began rescuing lions and tigers in the early 1970s.

Get the latest from TODAY

Sign up for our newsletter
SUBSCRIBE
/ Source: TODAY
By Alyssa Newcomb

Hollywood legend Tippi Hedren is 90 years old and still lives with lions and tigers, according to her granddaughter, actress Dakota Johnson.

Hedren, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and "Marnie," began rescuing big cats in the early 1970s.

Johnson, 30, made a virtual appearance on "The Graham Norton Show" and confirmed that her grandmother still lives with big cats at her California animal sanctuary, Shambala Preserve, in Acton, California.

"She has 13 or 14 lions and tigers. There used to be like 60 cats and now there's just a couple," Johnson said.

Tippi Hedren's tiger casually poked its head through the kitchen window in this photo from Jan. 25, 1982.Eddie Sanderson / Getty Images

Hedren was photographed over the years at home casually talking on the phone as a tiger poked its head through her kitchen window and cuddling a lion in her living room.

"It is what it is. It's a tiger jumping through your kitchen window," Norton said.

"It is what it is," Johnson replied.

Hedren, in a swimming pool, playfully spits water at her pet lion Neil, who sits on the pool's deck in May, 1971.Michael Rougier / The LIFE Picture Collection via

Another photo showed Johnson's mother, Melanie Griffith, jumping into a pool as a kid with a lion appearing to snack on her leg.

Hedren's fascination with big cats began in 1969 when she filmed "Satan's Harvest" and "Mister Kingstreet's War" in Africa. In 1973, her second husband Noel Marshall made a movie called "Roar" co-starring Melanie Griffith. The couple cast some of the lions and tigers they had rescued.

Hedren playfully wrestles with her pet lion Neil in the living room of her home in May, 1971.Michael Rougier / The LIFE Picture Collection via

She also started the Roar Foundation in 1983 "to educate the public about the dangers of private ownership of exotic animals," according to the nonprofit's mission statement.

As a child, Griffith was photographed laying in bed, under a blanket, next to her lion, Neil. Hedren told The Daily Mail in 2014 it was "stupid beyond belief" to let a lion live among her family and said some of the photos make her "cringe."

Johnson grew up around her grandmother's big cats, but said it was a very different experience than the one her mom had.

"Yeah, well I mean, by the time I was born they were all in huge compounds and it was a lot safer," she said. "And it wasn't as totally psycho as it was when they first started."

Norton responded with a joke, "You weren't just lion bait by the pool."

"No," Johnson replied, assuring she wasn't a "snack."