By Langley Cornwell
There are plenty of famous animated cats in cartoons, on television and in the movies. We’re probably all familiar with the likes of Sylvester, Felix, Tigger, Oscar, Tom and Garfield, but what about live cat actors? It seems like the live dog actors get all the press. Even here, I recently wrote about Eddie, the dog from Frasier, and Toto but I’ve never given any space to live cat actors.
Granted, anybody that has ever shared their life with a cat knows it’s not easy to teach a cat to perform a task on command. For that reason, there are not as many famous cat actors to write about. Still, our feline thespians should get the recognition they deserve, so here is a little background on some famous cat actors.
A congenial orange tabby named Vito Vincent has achieved a level of fame and a reputation for being incredibly calm, even amidst the hustle and bustle of film and television sets. So far, Vito has gained recognition by being on high profile TV shows that film in New York, like 30 Rock and The Colbert Report. His owner and manager believes that Vito will get even bigger and better gigs in Hollywood, so they recently moved from the Big Apple to the West Coast so Vito could let his star shine bright.
In The Adventures of Milo & Otis, the cat actor and the dog actor got equal screen time. Oh well, at least the cat got top billing. In fact, The Adventures of Milo & Otis is a remake of a Japanese movie called Koneko Monogatari, which means A Kitten’s Story. Milo is an orange tabby kitten and her canine companion is a pug named Otis. Dudley Moore provides the voices of both characters and all of the actors are animals; no humans show up in this film. The movie reportedly took four years to complete due to the complexities of working strictly with animal actors – I wonder how many truckloads of training treats like CANIDAE TidNips and Snap-Bits were used to get the animals to do what they were supposed to?
This orange tabby tomcat is one of the most familiar cats of all time. Television commercials starring the sardonic cat ran during the 1970’s and 1980’s and “catapulted” the one-time shelter cat into stardom. Morris was rescued in 1968 by animal trainer Bob Martwick. Bob was visiting the Humane Society in Hinsdale, Illinois when he spotted Lucky (the original Morris’s real name) just before he was scheduled for euthanasia. The cat left the shelter and went on to become the world’s most finicky cat. But Morris did more than just commercials. He also made an appearance in the Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon movie Shamu. Additionally, this famous feline has written three books. The original Morris has crossed over the rainbow bridge but now, according to No Animals Were Harmed, any cat that plays the role of Morris has to be rescued from an animal shelter. The current Morris lives in Los Angeles with his owner, Rose Ordile.
The cat(s) from the 1965 film That Darn Cat!, a Disney classic starring Dean Jones and Haley Mills, is one of the most famous cat actors. The movie is about two sisters and their Siamese tomcat named DC. It may not be entirely fair to include DC in this lineup, however, because there were actually several Seal Point Siamese cats that collectively play the starring role. Still, because this entire live action film is about a cat, and the cat(s) steal the show so thoroughly, I felt compelled to include DC.
Have I left out any of your favorite live cat actors?
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell
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