The grave spot was still marked in the mid-1990s (lion spirit is our addition).

Grave of Leo the Lion

Field review by the editors.

Gillette, New Jersey

Volney Phifer knew how to make an animal sit up and pay attention.

Volney was Hollywood's premier animal trainer, and his most successful pupil was Leo, the MGM lion, who Volney taught to roar on cue.

By the 1930s Volney had made his fortune and left Tinseltown. He bought a farm in Gillette, where he boarded animals used in Broadway shows and Manhattan vaudeville acts. He brought Leo with him, and here is where both man and beast died.

Volney planted Leo in the front yard and marked the grave with a small, blank block of granite. More significant is the pine tree that Volney, full of secret European wisdom, planted directly over Leo's body. He insisted that its roots would "hold down the lion's spirit."

Grave of Leo the Lion

Morristown Rd, Gillette, NJ
Northbound side of Morristown Rd, a half-mile north of Valley Rd and just south of the train tracks.
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November 25, 2020

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