The strange story of Pippin the deer began when Hepburn was cast as Rima, the “bird girl” of director Mel Ferrer’s “Green Mansions.” The movie was based on a 1904 novel by William Henry Hudson dubbed as “a romance of the tropical forest” and required Hepburn to interact with flora and fauna in a lush forest setting. Ferrer, who was married to Hepburn at the time, wanted her to move freely with the animals on film, so he arranged to have a fawn live with them prior to filming.
Hepburn was still reeling from her recent filming of “The Unforgiven“ with director John Huston. Despite her terror of horses, Huston had Hepburn perform her own stunts on horseback, and she suffered a miscarriage after being thrown from a horse on set. Ferrer was aware of his wife’s fragile emotional state and hoped the fawn would cheer her.
He was right—Hepburn adored Pippin, whom she nicknamed Ip. The doe accompanied her everywhere and slept in a custom-made bathtub. She shopped, ate, and napped with Pippin. After four months of adoe-able bliss, Hepburn reportedly returned Pippin to an animal farm and went back to lavishing her dogs with affection. Ian Woodward writes that Hepburn “regarded affection for an animal, especially a dog, as possibly the purest experience a human being could have.”
(via Modern Notion)