When appearing in ‘The Jess Cagle Podcast’, the former ‘Miami Vice’ star recalls helping his ex-mother-in-law, Tippi Hedren, nurse the wild cats’ cubs before taking them out to Shambala Preserve.
AceShowbiz –Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith played zookeepers when they were married – hand-raising dozens of lions and tigers together.
The “Miami Vice” star, 71, helped Melanie, 64, and his ex-mother-in-law, veteran actress Tippi Hedren, 91, nurse tiny lion and tiger cubs headed for the Shambala Preserve, the Acton, California sanctuary “The Birds” star and animal activist founded.
Don told the hosts of “The Jess Cagle Podcast with Julia Cunningham“, “We hand raised those lions and tigers. Probably between Melanie and I, we hand raised 20 or 30 lions and tigers. And when they get to be teenagers, which is around six months old, then we would take them out to the reserve.”
The “Knives Out” actor continued, “But yeah, we would raise them, bottle feed them and then move them over to regular cat food. I got pretty good at working with the wild cats.”
Along with the exotic cats, Melanie and Don also raised “Fifty Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson, 32.
Don has four other children; 38-year-old Jesse Johnson, whose mother is model Patti D’Arbanville, and three with his current wife Kelley Phleger, 21-year-old daughter Grace, and sons 19-year-old Jasper and 15-year-old Deacon.
During the podcast interview, Don also opened up about the time he “was thinking about quitting the business.” He recalled, “I was thinking about, ‘Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do but I gotta do something,’ and then I got ‘Miami Vice’ and everything changed.”
“I was a working actor and struggled along for some years, making well under the national poverty level. Some years were pretty good, but you know, like Georgia raft, I p***** it away on women, booze and horses,” he reflected on his past struggles. “It was a very tricky time. And you know, I was still growing up. There were a lot of things I was not aware of.”
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