In the early 1940s, LIFE magazine reported that a Mrs. Mark Bullis of Washington, D.C., had adopted a squirrel “before his eyes were open, when his mother died and left him in a tree” in the Bullis’s back yard. Here, in a series of photos by Nina Leen, LIFE.com chronicles the quiet, rodential adventures and sartorial splendor of Tommy Tucker, the orphaned — and, in 1940s America, the celebrated — squirrel.
“Most squirrels,” LIFE noted (with a striking lack of evidence), “are lively and inquisitive animals who like to do tricks when they have an audience.” They do?
LIFE then went on to observe that the squirrel, dubbed Tommy Tucker by the Bullis family, “is a very subdued little animal who has never had a chance to jump around in a big tree.”
“Mrs. Bullis’ main interest in Tommy,” LIFE continued, “is in dressing him up in 30 specially made costumes. Tommy has a coat and hat for going to market, a silk pleated dress for company, a Red Cross uniform for visiting the hospital.”
“Tommy never seems to complain,” the LIFE article concluded, “although sometimes he bites Mrs. Bullis. Mrs. Bullis never complains about being bitten.”