Vivien Leigh and her cats

Vivian Mary Hartley was born in India, November 5, 1913. When the future actress grew up her parents sent her to England to study in the closed private school. And, as it often happens, the girl, whose future would destined to become the idol of millions,  didn’t have a great desire to communicate with  her peers. Vivian avoided other students, and her only friend was a half-wild cat who lived in the schoolyard. The actress began to love cats after him. Stormy acting life had prepared for her a lot of ups and downs , successes and tribulations, victories and disappointments. But the love for cats Vivien Leigh retained until the death.

“I am crazy about cats” 
Vivien Leigh

In an interview the actress recalled: “I was born in India. I returned to England at the age of 5 and was immediately sent to the school at the convent, where I was the youngest student. I remember that I was permitted to take cats to bed. I have always been crazy about cats. “

Vivien Leigh and her catsDuring  the first years of marriage, Lee and Laurence Olivier had a black and white cat named Tissa. The kitten was born at the backyard of the hotel. Another cat of Siamese breed  was named New Boy.  after the New London Theatre (now – the Royal National Theatre), founded by Laurence Olivier. Ivory was a favorite of the family: Larry brought him an elegant collar, decorated with gold bells from Paris and Vivienne did not part  with him  and always took it to her trips. Only once they had become separated with the cat when the “Old Vic” celebrity couple went on tour to Australia. There Vivien has received a letter from England with the news that her beloved cat escaped and was hit by a car. Vivian was crying all day, and her grief was visible even through the thick layer of make-up when in the evening she come up on stage. Cat lived with her at least 16 years.

Last years of her life Vivien Leigh lived with another Siamese cat named Moo-Jones. Moo-Jones accompanied the actress almost everywhere and even traveled with her at the famous cruise liner “Queen Elizabeth”, where she enjoyed walking on the boat deck. Viviane always loved to bring a cat with her, which often fell asleep, sprawled comfortably on her shoulder. However, not everybody was pleased with the cat’s presence.  Once the actress Joan Fontaine responded very disparagingly of the “cat’s proximity” and asked to pick up the cat when he came close to her. Vivian said that who didn’t appreciate cats couldn’t be able to feel true love.

Another Siamese cat, Armada, lived altogether with Poo-Jones  but nothing was  known about him.

Vivien Leigh and her catsIn the memoirs of  about Vivien Leigh  the actress’s daughter, Holman Susan Farrington wrote: “My mother always had cats. Once she was living with 16 cats. The oldest was a great white cat, very confident. His name wasTiddly-iddly-iddly -iddly. Another cat was called Christmas. On Christmas evening, Mom and Larry heard someone scratching at the window. They opened it, and the little red-haired kitten jumped into the room. He looked at mom with his  green eyes and jumped on her shoulder. The fed the guest with a hearty meal, and then released him outside , but he again mewed at the door. So he stayed in the house. But most of all Vivienne loved Siamese cats. “

Actor Rex Harrison, who co-starred with Vivien Leigh, recalled in his autobiography: “Vivienne is very much like a cat . She can purr and scratch and look at the same time equally beautiful.” By the way, Laurence Olivier called his wife “Kitten”, emphasizing her  cat-like manners.

Actress Olivia de Havilland (Melanie from “Gone With the Wind”), remembered her first meeting with Lee: “I saw Vivienne as swift, elegant and full of self-control, like a little Siamese cat.” De Havilland knew what to say, because she had Siamese cats.

Vivien Leigh catsThe actress always had weak lungs, but even when the doctors diagnosed  her with “tuberculosis”, she continued to smoke a lot. At that  time, drugs were used as a  treatment of this disease, and side effect of them was the impact on one’s mind , which further aggravated the condition of the actress Vivian. She died in July 7, 1967. And by a strange coincidence, the last person who had seen the actress alive was her cat Poo Jones, because it always slept in her bed. After  Vivian’s death her housekeeper Mrs. Mack took him. And the ashes of the great actress, according to her will, were scattered over the lake, not far from her estate in Tikerage Mill.

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