Marilyn Monroe. Clark Gable. Audrey Hepburn. Humphrey Bogart. The stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age have transcended the screen – they remain pop culture and artistic icons half a century after their heyday. And, while you’d recognize their faces anywhere, you wouldn’t be able to pinpoint their pets in a line-up. These incredible photos will introduce you to the animal companions of the biggest stars of this era. Whose dog had 13 puppies? Who let a lion live in their home? Who adopted an adorable baby deer? You’ll have to read on to find out.
40. Chester Franklin’s canine co-star – and his actual pet puppy
Golden Age director Chester Franklin received a pet puppy from one of his actors – an actor who just so happened to be a dog. Here we see Peter the Great, a canine who, it was perhaps dubiously claimed, displayed near-human levels of intelligence, presenting the filmmaker with the pooch in the basket. Previously, Franklin had directed Peter in his 1925 flick, Wild Justice.
39. Bette Davis and one of her many Scotties
Bette Davis was the first actor in history to earn ten Academy Award nominations. At the same time, she racked up quite the collection of pups. Here, we see her with one Scottie, but, at some point, she had four of the wiry-haired terriers to her name. Davis also made a point to care for homeless canines, a cause she served while raising her own family of pooches at home.
38. Mister Billie Holiday
Songstress Billie Holiday’s legacy will always be as one of jazz’s most influential and talented artists. Behind the scenes, though, she had another reputation as a dog lover. And, although no parent should pick favorites, rumor has it that Lady Day had a special place in her heart for this guy, a boxer named Mister.
37. Joan Fontaine and her feline counterpart
Joan Fontaine had a prolific acting career, which included an Oscar win for the Alfred Hitchcock film, Suspicion. But the press tended to focus on her strained relationship with her sister and fellow star, Olivia de Havilland. That was an unfortunate choice – they could have just focused on the happier facets of her life, such as her relationship with her Siamese cat, seen here in 1966.
36. Clara Bow’s bow-wow
Someone snapped this picture of Clara Bow and her Airedale terrier in 1930. At the same time, the actress – who easily made the transition from silent films to ‘talkies’ – was at the height of her career. So, she did it all with a canine companion by her side. Coincidence? We think not.
35. An adorable pup for Alfred Hitchcock
Hear the word “Hitchcock” and it sends a shiver down your spine. The Golden Age director revolutionized the thriller genre with films such as Psycho and Rear Window. But the so-called “Master of Suspense” preferred the expected when it came to pets. He often kept Sealyham terriers, dogs known for being excellent, affectionate companions to their owners. We need one of those with us when we watch a Hitchcock movie!
34. A workout buddy for future fitness guru Jane Fonda
Even though Jane Fonda’s career started back in the 1960s she’s still not showing many signs of slowing down. She has won two Academy Awards and launched an at-home workout program that stands as the top-selling VHS tape of all time. Long before that, though, she was practicing her moves at home with a trusty workout buddy, her pet Siamese cat.
33. The best kind of gift for Jayne Mansfield
What’s better than getting a puppy? Why, when said puppy is given to you as a surprise, of course. That’s what happened to Jayne Mansfield and her pet bulldog, pictured here. The blonde bombshell received the pooch as a gift from an admirer who came to the London set of her movie, The Challenge, in 1959.
32. Anthony Perkins was crazy about his cat
The star of Psycho and all of its sequels clearly had a softer side for his pets. Anthony Perkins showed off his cat, Banjo, in this 1958 photo. The actor went on to say that his demanding work schedule left him little time to make friends. So, it was a good thing that he had a feline companion at his side.
31. Debbie Reynolds’ pack of poodles
When it comes to longevity, few can match Singin’ in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds, whose time in the Tinseltown spotlight stretched across seven decades. In this adorable snippet from the Golden Age, we see the actress alongside her two poodles, Tammy and Bachelor. She had received the pups as a present from then-husband and fellow Golden Age icon, Eddie Fisher.
30. Hylda Baker had two primate pals
We think of the 1950s as the most picture-perfect decade in history – manicured lawns, nuclear families and TV dinners. It turns out that there were some anomalies during this cookie-cutter time in history. Comedienne Hylda Baker, for one, forewent the traditional family pet in favor of keeping two monkeys as her companions.
29. Natalie Wood’s not-so-natural pup
It’s no secret that Natalie Wood was a natural in front of the camera. She earned her first Academy Award nomination as a teen for her role in Rebel Without a Cause. Here, she’s pictured with her pup, Grebel. The poodle seems a bit more shocked by the spotlight than its mom, though…
28. Dorothy Dandridge’s precious airport cargo
Dorothy Dandridge stopped at Paris’s Orly airport on her way to film the ill-fated movie Marco Polo in Serbia in 1962. The production was eventually abandoned after the studio pulled the plug on its funding. So it’s a good thing that she had her pup with her on the trip for support.
27. Ingrid Bergman and her stable friend
In 1941 cameras followed Ingrid Bergman as she went to visit her horse stabled in California. Her interest in equestrianism would serve her on screen, as well. Seven years after this photo was taken, the actress starred in Joan of Arc, a role that required her to be confident on horseback.
26. Stinky, Poopshin and Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford is consistently listed as one of the greatest actresses of all time. The seriousness with which she approached her craft did not apply in other areas of her life – specifically, when it came to naming her pets. The Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? actress had two dachshunds and called them Stinky and Poopshin.
25. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh’s third wheel
Actors Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh often stepped out on one another throughout their two-decade marriage. But not all of the couple’s third wheels were adulterous acquaintances. The Rebecca actor and the Gone With the Wind actress also shared pets, including this Siamese cat who roamed in their London home in the 1950s.
24. Jean Harlow’s inspirational Pekingese
When Hollywood’s Golden Age began, so did actress Jean Harlow’s career. The star – often considered to be the original blonde bombshell – had a four-legged support system by her side as she became Tinseltown’s hottest star. It was her Pekingese named Oscar, who Harlow later said inspired her acting in the 1933 film, Dinner at Eight.
23. Zsa Zsa says “Baa baa”
At first glance, it may seem that Zsa Zsa Gabor is bottle-feeding an eager poodle or another curly-haired breed of dog. But the uber-glamorous actress is actually pictured with her pet sheep, which lived with her in her Beverly Hills home in the 1950s. The farm animal fit in with the glitzy atmosphere – check out its studded, sparkling collar.
22. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s dedicated boxer
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart wed in 1945, exchanging their “I do’s” on an Ohio farm. The same year saw the Hollywood heavyweights adding to their family – with a four-legged friend, of course. A friend gave them their boxer Harvey as a wedding gift. And a dozen years later, Bogart died from lung cancer – and his devoted dog passed within half a year.
21. A smooch for Rita Hayworth’s spaniel
Of all the posters hanging in GI barracks during World War II, the most popular pin-up girl was Rita Hayworth. But the gorgeous Gilda star only had eyes for her spaniel – at least in this 1946 photo. The actress married five times throughout her life, including unions to fellow Hollywood star Orson Welles and Prince Aly Khan.
20. Eartha Kitt-ens
Orson Welles once lauded Eartha Kitt as “the most exciting woman in the world.” Indeed, the lady wore a lot of hats – she was an actress, dancer, author, comedian, activist, songwriter, voice actor and singer. And, while all of those talents helped her command the spotlight, she took on a more muted role at home: cat mom.
19. Owl be there for Wishart Campbell
Wishart Cambell might not be a Hollywood Golden Age star whose name you know. But he made his mark behind the scenes, composing music and singing songs. His choice in pets also left an impression. Here, we see his pet owl, Archie, who has perched on the musician’s pipe.
18. Rags for Ava Gardner
Screen siren and Academy Award nominee Ava Gardner married three times in her life, but she considered her last husband, Frank Sinatra, to be her true soulmate. We’d imagine that her Welsh corgi, this adorable pooch named Rags, came in a close second to the blue-eyed crooner.
17. The softer side of Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood has won Oscars for directing Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven – and, of course, he has starred in those and other films, too. But he made a name for himself as a hard-edged actor in crime thrillers and Spaghetti Westerns in the 1960s. So it’s funny to see him in this 1960 photo, cuddling up to his dog and cat at his Hollywood Hills home.
16. Marilyn Monroe’s fluffy gift from Frank Sinatra
During her marriage to playwright Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe often spent time at his Connecticut country with Hugo, their basset hound. But when the couple divorced in 1961 the blonde bombshell needed a new four-legged friend. So, crooner Sinatra stepped in and gifted the actress with this adorable poodle that she named Maf.
15. The King and Queen of Hollywood had horses, too
When comedienne Carole Lombard married Clark Gable, the press went wild – he was the so-called “King of Hollywood”, after all. Yet at their Encino, California, ranch their lives were much more rustic than red carpet. They raised horses, including the grown-up named Bon Pepper, seen here, as well as the actress’ colt.
14. Elizabeth Taylor lathers up her pup
This photo captures screen legend Elizabeth Taylor at the start of her career. The then-17-year-old had a burgeoning career at MGM after starring in animal-centric epic films, such as the Lassie series. Clearly, she loved pups on-screen and off. Here, she washes her own pooch, Amy, in a tin tub.
13. Salvador Dalí and his new feathered friend
Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí let life imitate his art on a 1955 trip to New York City. As the story goes, he befriended the rooster on his shoulder while en route to the Big Apple. And, by the time he arrived, he had named the barnyard bird “Oscar,” carried it on his shoulder and supposedly made it into his pet.
12. I Love Lucy and Desi’s pack of spaniels
Lucille Ball nabbed minor roles during her time with RKO Radio Pictures in the 1930s and ’40s. But everything changed in 1951 when she and her husband, Desi Arnaz,developed their iconic sitcom, I Love Lucy. Eventually, they became household names, and they had the resources to care for this trio of cocker spaniels.
11. Betty White and her St. Bernard
When Betty White sat for this portrait in 1954, she admitted to her photographer that she didn’t have time to pursue a romantic relationship. Clearly, she had her hands full at home with her massive St. Bernard, who she called Stormy. And this wasn’t her only pooch – she had three in total.
10. Josephine Baker’s exotic choice of feline
Josephine Baker didn’t mind pushing boundaries. The renowned dancer made a name for herself at the risqué Parisian cabaret nightspot the Folies Bergère, where she famously performed in a beaded necklace and a skirt made of bananas – and little else. Turns out, she had just as daring a pet at home. Yes, she cared for a cheetah named Chiquita, pictured here in the 1930s.
9. Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh playing a trick on their pooch
It can’t be a coincidence that Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis named their poodle Houdini. After all, the little guy seems dazzled by his dad’s decision to perform a magic trick in front of him. Of course, it could just be that the actor had just pulled a live rabbit out of a hat – what dog wouldn’t go crazy when seeing a bunny that close?
8. Gregory Peck and a baker’s dozen of puppies
By 1949 Gregory Peck was one of the biggest and most beloved names in Hollywood. He had already earned four Oscar nods, and he had set off to film the movie The Gunfighter, an American Western. But then he got a phone call that sent him straight back home: his dog, Slip, had gone into labor. The actor and his pooch welcomed a whopping 13 puppies – can you count them all in this family photo?
7. The Kennedys had a horse, of course
Anyone who has studied the Kennedys knows that the former First Family arrived at the White House with a menagerie of pets in tow. JFK famously had a furry companion in his dog, Friday. Meanwhile, the kids had their pony, Macaroni – Caroline and John Jr. would bring the horse to the Oval Office for visits with their presidential dad.
6. Grace Kelly’s going-away present
Grace Kelly starred in a slew of successful Hollywood films in the 1950s and even earned herself an Oscar before giving it all up to become a princess. She traveled by boat to Monaco to marry Prince Rainier, but she didn’t sail alone. The actress brought along her poodle named Oliver, a gift given to her as a pre-wedding present by close friend, Cary Grant.
5. Hair’s Kathleen Hughes’ secret…
Kathleen Hughes appeared in a slew of classic 1950s, ’60s and ’70s TV shows, including M*A*S*H, Gomer Pyle and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. The actress also had enviably blonde and bright hair, which she credited to her pet duck. Yes, she said that her avian companion would lay an egg daily, which she would crack open and use to shampoo her hair.
4. Joan Collins and her Spider
In this photo, you’re seeing actress Joan Collins, her first husband, Maxwell Reed, and their pet monkey. So, where’s the spider we promised? That’s actually the primate’s name – and no, there’s no reason why they called it that. But the exotic animal did live with the couple in their London home in the 1950s.
3. A wallaby fit for The King
Elvis received an interesting gift from a fan while shooting the video for his iconic song, “Jailhouse Rock.” The King’s Aussie admirer handed over a wallaby, which the crooner decided to keep as a pet. Eventually, though, he handed over the marsupial to the Memphis Zoo, but kept a slew of more domestic pets at his estate in the same city, Graceland.
2. Fawning over Audrey Hepburn
Audrey Hepburn fell in love with an adorable wild deer while filming her movie Green Mansions in 1958. She called the fawn Pippin, and she even let it sleep in bed with her. After she finished filming and had said goodbye to the animal, tragedy struck: the actress suffered a miscarriage. So, her husband, Mel Ferrer, went back to the place where his wife made her fawn friend, scooped it and brought it home as Hepburn’s forever pet.
1. Tippi Hedren’s home pride
No, that’s not a rug wrapped up in Tippi Hedren’s arms, its jaws dangerously close to her head. That’s actually The Birds actress’ pet lion, Nell. She let the giant jungle cat live in her Sherman Oaks, California, home with her and her daughter, Melanie Griffith. To us, that’s an even scarier plotline than the Hitchcock movies in which Hedren once starred.