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.