February 28th, 2019

carole lombard 04
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This feline actor was the cat's meow

Carole Lombard, cat lover, posed with an unnamed black feline in a publicity still for "Supernatural" (1933). Two years later, a white cat (named Whitey, natch) was her character's pet in "Hands Across The Table" (below).

But did you know that one cat appeared in four of Carole's movies? I didn't until doing some research today. Its name was Puzzums (or Pussums), and I use "its" because as with its spelling, we aren't clear which gender it was. The Internet Movie Database believes it to be female, while the Cinema Cats site (yes, one actually exists!) labels it as male for one entry, female for another. Whichever, the kitty was seen in movies Lombard made for silent comic master Mack Sennett: "The Girl From Everywhere" (1927) and "Run, Girl, Run," "The Girl From Nowhere" and "His Unlucky Night" (all 1928).

"Run, Girl, Run," among the most accessible of Carole's Sennett films, features a scene where college track coach Daphne Pollard puts bunion pads on her feet as the feline lies on a bed:

Adhesives from the pads fall to the floor as the cat jumps off the bed...

...and hilarity ensues. Learn more at http://www.cinemacats.com/?p=9928 and see the scene at http://www.cinemacats.com/wp-content/uploads/gifs/rungirlrun.gif.

In "His Unlucky Night," it proves its prowess at checkers (aided by some smart editing and camera work) in a scene with Andy Clyde:

No doubt about it, the cat had charisma.

More info and additional screenshots are at http://www.cinemacats.com/?p=13122, and check out the GIF at http://www.cinemacats.com/wp-content/uploads/gifs/hisunluckynight.gif.

Pussums' only six IMDb listings were for Sennett, but it survived into the talkie era (whether it actually mewed on screen is another question entirely). It apparently "followed" Carole to Paramount, and is seen alongside Jeanette MacDonald, wearing feline spectacles...

...as well as one of Jeanette's frequent co-stars, Maurice Chevalier:

Heck, it even got its own close-up (take that, Norma Desmond!):

Not much else is known about Pussums, or Puzzums, who apparently was discovered by movie extra Nadine Dennis in 1925. Here's one account:

"Puzzums was raised by hand when his mother deserted him on the day of his birth, but went on to develop abilities to do more tricks than the average dog. He could cross his eyes, 'laugh' at the command of his owner, and even feed himself from a baby’s bottle."

At Puzzums' peak, it was loaned out to studios and was making $250 a week as a feline freelancer. Alas, an ulcerated tooth led to its death in 1934. Puzzums is interred at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park & Crematory.

If you're a feline cinephile, you will fall in love with http://www.cinemacats.com/. It hosts thousands of movie, TV and video kitties, shown from the silent era to recent fare such as last year's "Book Club." Meet legendary cat actors, such as Orangey from "Breakfast At Tiffany's."

Another marmalade soon will make a big splash on the big screen, as Goose the cat will reportedly play a significant role in next week's "Captain Marvel," starring Brie Larson. Kitty even got its own poster:

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