My human has been spending most of this long weekend at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, attending an annual vintage film festval called Cinecon. She has gone every year for something like a decade or so. In addition to old time movie stars like Fanny Ward, Jean Harlow and Milton Sills (we’re talking really old time — the 1910s through the 1930s!), my human has been seeing a lot of kitties on the silver screen! In fact, here is a clip from a film she saw Friday afternoon called The Freshman, starring Harold Lloyd, one of the biggest silent comedians of the 1920s (in fact, his films grossed more than either Charles Chaplin or Buster Keaton, the other two comic filmmakers of the era). In The Freshman, Harold (unbeknownst to him) is the collage laughingstock, and in this scene there is a kitten hidden in his sweater. Watch where she crawls out!
For you kitty film trivial buffs, here are some famous cats from vintage motion pictures:
Pepper: This gray tabby showed up on the Mack Sennett lot one day. Sennett was the biggest producer of comedy two-reelers in the 1910s, and Pepper found herself appearing alongside comedians of the day such as Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Mabel Normand, Charlie Chaplin, and yes, Teddy the Great Dane. My human got to see some of Pepper’s work on Thursday in the 1920 Sennett comedy feature, Down on the Farm, starring Louise Fazenda. After Teddy died, Pepper apparently vanished, never to be seen on film again.
Orangey: This red tabby thespian was the winner of two Patsy awards (from the 1950s to 1986, the animal equivalent of the Oscars) for his star turns in Rhubarb (he had the title role), and as Audrey Hepburn’s cat, Cat, in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. If you’re into vintage sci-fi, you can see him in the original 1957 Incredible Shrinking Man, where he treats his miniature human as prey. Orangey even has his own Wikipedia page!
Pyewacket: Another Patsy winner, this Siamese stunner was one of the stars of 1958’s Bell Book and Candle. Pyewacket helped Kim Novak bewitch James Stewart.
Rumple and Amber: These Abyssinian siblings played Jake, the title character of the Disney film, The Cat From Outer Space (1978). Incidentally, one of the film’s stars, Sandy Duncan, is allergic to cats. Must’ve been a fun movie for her to make!
Syn Cat: Along with some uncredited stand-ins, this traditional, apple-head Siamese played the title character in the original 1965 version of That Darn Cat.
There are a number of movies in which multiple uncredited cats played a single role. One cat and two stand-ins played Tonto in 1974’s Harry and Tonto (Art Carney, who played Harry, claims the stand-ins were never needed, but he apparently became attached to his co-star and may not be telling the whole truth). A favorite film of mine, The Three Lives of Thomasina, has two ginger tabbies playing Thomasina. Actually, the two Thomasinas don’t even look that much alike — can you tell them apart in the otherwise-charming opening scene to the movie?
Do you have any favorite movie cats, from either vintage or newer films?
See all of Summer’s merch at her Designercat Shop, available on Zazzle.