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A timely salute to some famous lions and lambs

It seems the right month to take a look at the King of the Jungle and his meeker meteorological mate in history and pop culture, so let’s get roaring.

It seems the right meteorological month to take a look at some famous lions and lambs in history and pop culture.

So, let’s get roaring with the mighty King of the Jungle, give him his due and then welcome the lamb — and, with any luck, some better weather.

We’ll start with:

• Two history-making royal rulers: Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, whose many titles included “Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” And Richard I, the hero king of England from 1189 to 1199, known as Richard the Lionheart.

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And then there are a bunch of them from movies, music, stories and TV:

• Two cartoon lions of fame: King Leonardo his loyal sidekick, Odie Cologne, and their compatriots,  and Linus the Lionhearted.

• Two Aesop’s fables with lions in a key role: “Androcles and the Lion” and “The Lion and the Mouse” — both, of course, with timeless morals.

• And a movie (now part of a series) — “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and Wardrobe,”  based on C.S. Lewis’ beloved series of books.

• Several powerful “Lion” films:

“The Lion in Winter” (1968) the battle for England’s throne, with Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins.

“The Wind and the Lion (1975) based on the abduction of an American woman, with Sean Connery and Candice Bergen.

The Young Lions” (1958) the intertwined story of three World War II soldiers, with Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift.

• Two movies starring real lions: “Clarence the Cross-Eyed Lion,” the inspiration for the TV show “Daktari,” and Elsa, the lioness “star” of “Born Free” (1966).

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• And one Disney animated classic “The Lion King” (1994) with plenty of hit songs.

• Not to mention, a famous lion song featured in the movie — which years earlier was a No. 1 hit in its own right, “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” That song got its start as “Wimoweh,” introduced in America by the Weavers (with Pete Seeger) and featured in the once-blacklisted group’s 1980 reunion concert at Carnegie Hall.

• And two MGM “Lion” movie contributions — Leo, the MGM trademark lion, and Bert Lahr as The Cowardly Lion in the 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz.”

And we’ll end up our lionizing with a sports team: the once-lowly Detroit Lions, who unfortunately appear ready again to pounce and leave the Vikings in the NFC North dust.

We’ll start with a nursery rhyme and end the category with even more nursery rhymes.

• Sir Paul McCartney offers his take on “Mary Had a Little Lamb” — my nominee for most well-known Mother Goose rhyme. (Any better nominees for the honor?  If so, tell me in the Comment section below.)

“The Whiffenpoof Song,”  Bing Crosby’s tribute to all “the poor little lambs who have lost their way” — the Yale Whiffenpoofs, regarded as the oldest collegiate men’s a capella group in the nation. And here’s another version, a bit more my style — the Muppets’ send-up.

• And some ivy-eating lambs featured in the 1940s-era novelty hit “Mairzy Doats,” presented here in the initimable Spike Jones style.

• Shari Lewis’ hammy puppet, Lamb Chop.

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• The touching song “Little Lamb,” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Gypsy,” the musical version of the life of stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. In this song, a very confused Natalie Wood tries to figure out how old she really is, because of all the years her show-biz mom tried to pawn her off as a pre-teen to preserve the vaudeville kids’ act.

• Two writers, one early, one contemporary: essayist Charles Lamb (“Elia”) and novelist Wally Lamb.

• And, as promised, more nursery rhymes featuring grown-up lambs: “Little Boy Blue,” “Little Bo Peep” and “Baa Baa, Black Sheep” (not to be confused with the like-titled TV action show).

And a combo lion-lamb ending
How about wrapping up with one of the most often misquoted Bible versesthe one about the lion lying down with the lamb? Here’s the real scoop on that unusually friendly mishmash of animals, courtesy of Isaiah.