Actors who give an especially great performance in a movie or television series are usually awarded with an Oscar or an Emmy. That’s all well and good, but what about those actors from the animal world? Animal actors are just as deserving of awards for exceptional performance so in 1939, the PATSY Awards were created to do just that.
What are the PATSY Awards?
Created by the Hollywood office of the American Humane Association, PATSY was originally an acronym for Picture Animal Top Star of the Year. In 1958, the PATSY Awards were expanded to include television performers and the acronym Performing Animal Television Star of the Year was added.
The PATSY Awards were originally created with the intent to honor animal performers after a horse was killed during the filming of the movie “Jessie James,” starring Tyrone Powers.
The first actual recipient of a PATSY came in 1951 when Francis the Talking Mule was honored. Who presented Francis with the first PATSY? None other than Ronald Reagan himself, the actor-turned-President who was known for his work with a chimpanzee in the Bonzo movies.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live with one of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers? Well, wonder no more! In The Dalai Lama’s Cat, a novel by David Michie, a sassy Himalayan gives us a cat’s eye view of life in the inner sanctum of His Holiness’s household. True to feline nature, the curious cat soaks up the teachings that take place when visitors – everyone from Hollywood celebrities and self help gurus to philanthropists and royalty – seek an audience with the Dalai Lama. To be sure, life is never dull when you’re the Dalai Lama’s cat!
The Buddhist wisdom is artfully interwoven with entertaining tales of a cat just being a cat…getting into mischief, making the most of every opportunity, and purring her way into the hearts of all who meet her. One would expect no less of any feline, let alone one who spends every morning curled up with the Dalai Lama while he meditates.
The Dalai Lama’s cat, a.k.a. Mousie-Tung, The Snow Lion of Jokhang, His Holiness’s Cat (HHC), The Bodhicatva, and “The Most Beautiful Creature That Ever Lived,” is so charming, funny, wise and witty that it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t love her. She even shares her most embarrassing moments for the sake of giving us a good laugh, which is something most dignified felines wouldn’t dream of doing! But the Dalai Lama’s cat is no ordinary feline, and she never lets us forget.
She makes no apologies for eavesdropping on the conversations between the Dalai Lama and his guests, and she puts a uniquely feline spin on the basic Buddhist principles she overhears. Through the Dalai Lama’s cat we learn about concepts such as karma, mindfulness, enlightenment, compassion, and the meaning of life.
The mark of any good novel, at least for me, is that it captures my attention on page one and compels me to keep turning pages despite other distractions and obligations. I read this book in two days because I just couldn’t put it down. And when I finished, I found myself wanting more. You really can’t ask for more from a good book, can you?
The first time most people see a photo of Venus, they usually think it’s a photoshop fake or that her owners dyed her face. It’s hard not to, since this kitty seemingly has two very different faces, perfectly split down the middle of her nose. A visit to her Facebook page is enough to convince all but the most skeptical humans that Venus is indeed a real cat.
But why is her face like that? Venus might be a chimera, a rare condition where two genetically distinct embryos merge in the womb. It’s also possible her unique face is just a coincidental placement of a normal tortoiseshell pattern. DNA testing is the only way to know for sure, but Venus doesn’t really care and neither do her 104,000+ Facebook fans who enjoy this cute kitty’s wit and humor. I chatted with Venus recently so we could all learn a little more about this now famous split-faced feline.
Julia: If you had $1 for every time someone said your face was photoshopped, how rich would you be, and what would you do with all the money?
Venus: I would probably have a half million dollars and I would definitely donate to animal aid after I got a few little luxuries for myself, like one of those fancy automatic litter boxes, a couple new cat condos, a lifetime supply of cat treats and cool toys…oh, and maybe a posh new carrier for trips to the vet.
What do you think about all the hubbub over your face?
I guess I’m not surprised because I do look so different than most other cats.
You were born a stray, but luckily found a wonderful forever home. What does your human family love most about you, and what do you love about them?
My human family loves that I’m so snuggly like a baby. I’m timid and shy around strangers, but when it’s just us I’m always laying on someone’s lap purring up a storm. What I love most about them is that they love me for all of me, not just because of how I look…AND they let me get away with things most kitties can’t do. We don’t have many rules.
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?
If you spend time on Facebook or like to search the web for cute pets, you’ve likely seen Grumpy Cat with the sour puss frown and Boo, the super cute Pomeranian. It seems we can’t get enough of these adorable pets. Below are some of my favorite pets that were “all the rage” in 2012. If you have a favorite that I didn’t mention, please let me know!
Grumpy Cat, aka Tardar Sauce (Tard for short), has an adorable scowl that makes it hard not to smile when you see her. Bryan Bundesen was visiting his sister Tabatha in Arizona last fall when he snapped the now famous frown of her 8 month old cat. Tardar Sauce was given her name by Tabatha’s daughter, who noticed the kitten had speckles in her fur that reminded her of tartar sauce. She misspelled it but the name stuck. Grumpy Cat really isn’t grumpy at all! She’s a sweetheart, and loves to play. Tard isn’t going away anytime soon. There’s a children’s book series, and a line of stuffed animals being discussed for 2013. Tard’s official Grumpy Cat Facebook page has almost 315,000 fans.
Chopper the Biker Dog
Chopper the Biker Dog is one cool dude that rides around on his custom made motorcycle. He has his very own handmade biker leather jacket and sunglasses, but this Boston Terrier is about as mellow as a dog can be, and thoroughly enjoys his job as a therapy dog. His goal in life is to make a difference in people’s lives. Chopper lives in San Diego, CA with his owner Mark Shaffer. His Facebook page currently has almost 20,000 fans.
Hank the Catis a Maine Coon cat that decided it was time for a feline to toss a hairball…um… his hat in the political ring, running for the open US Senate seat in Virginia. A true grassroots campaign pushing a simple message, “It’s OK to vote the humans out.” Hank netted over 7,000 write-in votes and also raised $60,000 for animal rescue organizations. Will Hank run again in 2014 or 2016? According to his campaign manager, Hank retired from politics, but Hank is staying mum on any future plans, sidestepping reporters’ questions.
Venus the Amazing Chimera Catis a beautiful tortoiseshell kitty with the most striking physical appearance. Her face is two colors perfectly split down the middle, the right side is black, and the left side is orange. Plus, one eye is green and the other is blue! Some people say this unusual looking feline is just a photoshop trick, but Venus is definitely a real kitty, and she even went on TV to prove it! Venus was a stray cat found wandering around on a dairy farm in North Carolina. She has 92,000 Facebook fans.
Henri, Le Chat Noir (Henri the Existential Cat) wants the world to feel his tortured soul living with humans and other pets, as told to us in a black & white YouTube video that went viral in 2012 with almost 6,700,000 views to date. Henri 2: Paw de Deux netted Henri’s owner, William Braden, top spot at the Internet Cat Video Film Festival. Not bad for a shelter cat turned actor. (There are five videos to date, and all are exceptional!). Henri’s real name is Henry, and in real life he’s an easygoing, laidback kitty that loves to purr. And his online contempt is, well, just good acting, as he tells it.
There have been more pets with large bank accounts than you might imagine, and they didn’t all start out as pampered, pedigreed pups. Of course some of them did, but around this time last year a rescued alley cat named Tommaso became one of the wealthiest animals in the world, adding to the growing list of animal millionaires.
Stray Cat Strut
A lonely heiress, Maria Assunta, rescued a stray cat from the streets of Rome and cared for the cat as if he was her own son. When the wealthy lady died at the age of 94, having no children to leave her estate to, Tommaso the cat inherited her fortune: $13 million dollars in cash along with property in Milan, Rome and Calabria.
Assunta, the widow of an Italian property tycoon, had a trusted nurse caring for her in her final years. When her health began to decline, the heiress began to put her affairs in order with a particular interest in securing a comfortable future for her precious cat. Her original plan was to bequeath her fortune to a suitable animal welfare organization that would commit to caring for Tommaso. When none of the animal associations met her standards, she left everything she owned to the cat, with the agreement that her nurse would agree to care for him.
A German shepherd named Gunther IV is supposed to be the wealthiest dog in the world, but some say his story is a giant publicity stunt. Whatever the case, the dog is mega rich. His father, Gunther III, was the beloved companion of Karlotta Liebenstain, an eccentric German countess. Karlotta died in 1992 and left her dog, (Gunther III), an inheritance of $124 million dollars. Apparently that German shepherd was quite a good money manager. During the elder Gunther’s lifetime, he grew his fortune to $372 million dollars which was passed on to his son, Gunther IV at his death. It’s safe to say this family of German shepherds has plenty of nutritious CANIDAE dog food to go around.
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