Oscars, Grammys, Pulitzers, Nobel Prizes… What do these prestigious awards have in common? Cats don’t care about them. At all. And they don’t care about the people who won them, either. This is a gallery of photographs of famous actors, directors, musicians, singers, writers, poets, and artists with cats. They all also happen to be dead (the people, not the cats [though most of the cats are probably dead, too]). Why oh why would a famous person want to hang out with a cat? Well, for one, a cat will never kowtow to the rich and famous just because of his status. While a celebrity may never be quite sure who his true human friends are, he can always be 100% certain where he stands with his cat. The cat only wants four things: to be fed, to be pet, to be played with, and to be immediately left alone when she tires of the interaction. For an acclaimed artist, performer, or thinker who may feel he must constantly be wary of users and hangers-on, a cat’s forthrightness must be refreshing.
Oh, sure, cats are cute and soft and hilarious and occasionally cuddly. Otherwise, would Ernest Hemingway have kept dozens of them around his houses in Cuba and Key West? He wrote, “A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” He killed himself, by the way. So did Kurt Cobain, who is also pictured on this list playing with a seemingly innocent kitten. And several of the other dead celebrities holding cats on this list died of drug overdoses, including Judy Garland, Keith Moon, Anthony Bourdain, and Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunate coincidental accidents, or last-resort desperation after long years spent being ignored and tortured by cats? Dead men tell no tales, and neither do guilty cats.
Why a gallery of only dead people? It’s a bit morbid. But these are also cool, old, mostly candid black and white photos of famous people, and it is fun to see mega-movie stars with their guards down. Some of these pictures were even taken in their own homes. There are also a few promo shots and even screen stills. What does it say about a person if his preferred pet is a cat? Are you surprised to see some of these famous cat people?
With Tiffany, 1986. Freddie Mercury had several cats over the years, including Oscar, Goliath, Miko, Romeo, and Lily.
With Marcus, who was a gift from Elizabeth Taylor in 1955
With Mitsou, mid-1950s
John Lennon had many cats over the years, including Tich, Tim, Sam, Elvis, Mimi, Babaghi, Major, Minor, Salt, Pepper, Misha, Shasha, Alica, and Charo.
Kerouac wrote about the death of his cat, Tyke, in Big Sur (1962).
Elizabeth Taylor had a number of cats over the years, including a Persian named Ali Khan.
Jayne Mansfield kept several cats, including Sabrina, Ophelia, and Romulus.
Joey Ramone had several cats, including a black cat named Spats.
The Kennedy family kept several pets at the White House, including a grey cat named Tom Kitten.
At his home in Cuba, Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway kept a family of cats that he called (in a letter) “cotsies” and “kittneys.” In 1945, the group included cats named Princessa, Boise, Friendless, Friendless’s Brother, Willy, Uncle Wolfer, Good Will, Fatso, Furhouse, Thruster (Thrusty), Littless Kitty, Shakespeare (Shopsky), Stephen Spender (Spendy), and Ecstasy. By 1954, there were 34 cats at the Finca.
Clark Gable & Carole Lombard
“I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course.”