Famous Cat Lovers-Vivien Leigh (1913-1967, British)

Vivien Leigh and her Siamese Cat New Boy

Vivien Leigh and her Siamese Cat New Boy

Vivien Leigh (1913-1967, British) the unforgettable star and Academy Award winner for best actress in both Gone with the Wind  and A Street Car Named Desire loved cats. Born in India, Leigh’s family moved back to England when she was just five years old, and enrolled her in The Convent of the Sacred Heart for her schooling. The headmistress gave her a kitten to keep her company at night, which led her to a life filled with cats. “I was the youngest child there (at the convent), and so I imagine I was rather spoiled. I remember I was allowed to take cats to bed with me. I’ve always been mad about cats.”

Leigh adopted her first cat in 1940 when she was newly married to Laurence Olivier. Tissy, a stray black and white cat, kept her company throughout the war while Olivier was stationed at Plymouth for flying lessons. During this time, Leigh also owned several other cats such as a white cat named Tiddly-iddly-iddly and a ginger tom named Christmas. According to her daughter, Suzanne, Leigh owned as many as 16 cats at a time.

 

Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh with their cat Tissy 1941

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh with their cat Tissy, 1941

 

 

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier, 1941

Tissy, 1941

 

Vivien Leigh received her first Siamese cat from Olivier in 1946. They named the cat New Boy, New for short, after the New Theatre in London’s St. Martin’s Lane. The most photographed of all her cats, New accompanied her everywhere as Leigh’s lucky charm. Unfortunately, while she and Olivier were in Australia in 1948, New Boy was run over and killed. Leigh was devastated.

 

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh with their cat New Boy

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh with their cat New Boy

 

 

Laurence Olivier and Vivian Leigh with their Siamese cat New Boy

New Boy

 

 

Vivien Leigh and New Boy

Vivien Leigh and New Boy

 

 

New Boy, Vivien Leigh's Siamese cat

New Boy

 

 

Lawrence Olivier and Vivien Leigh with Siamese cat New Boy, 1946

Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh with Siamese cat New Boy, 1946

 

 

Vivien Leigh and cat New Boy, 1946

 

 

 

Vivien Leigh at home with New Boy,1946

 

 

 

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier at home with their Siamese cat New Boy, 1946

 

 

 

 

Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier with Siamese cat, New Boy, 1946

 

 

 

Vivien Leigh and her Siamese New Boy, 1946

 

 

 

 

 

Vivien Leigh and her cat at home, 1946

 

 

 

Vivian Leigh, outside with New Boy her Siamese cat, 1946

 

 

To assuage Leigh’s grief over New Boy, Olivier gave her another Siamese cat, Armando. Armando and New Boy looked very much alike and Armando was even given New Boy’s collar which Olivier had especially purchased in Paris.

 

 

Vivien Leigh with Siamese cat, Armando

Vivien Leigh with Siamese cat, Armando

 

 

 

Vivian Leigh in a car with her Siamese Armando

 

 

Vivian Leigh with a Siamese cat

 

 

Vivian Leigh and her cat Armando

 

In the 1960’s her cat Poo Jones accompanied Leigh everywhere even on her voyage on the Queen Elizabeth. Another Siamese, he had a smoky white face, but not as dark as New Boy’s and Armando’s.  By this time, Siamese cats had become Leigh’s favorite, “Once you have kept a Siamese cat you would never have any other kind. They make wonderful pets and are so intelligent they follow you around like little dogs.” Poo Jones was named after Jones Harris, the son of actress Ruth Gordon. Poo Jones was a regular fixture in Leigh’s dressing rooms and was by her side at her death. Leigh suffered from tuberculosis for decades and succumbed to the deadly disease at just age 53 on July 7th, 1967. She was found collapsed on the floor with Poo Jones meowing over her. Despite her great love affair and marriage with Laurence Olivier, perhaps Leigh’s greatest enduring love was for her cats.

 

Vivian Leigh with her Siamese cat Poo Jones

Vivien Leigh with her Siamese cat Poo Jones

 

 

Vivien Leigh and Poo Jones, her cat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Leigh with her cat Poo Jones

 

 

 

 

 

Vivian Leigh with Poo Jones, her cat

 

 

Vivien Leigh with Poo Jones

 

 

Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina feeding her siamese New Boy on set, 1948

Vivien Leigh as Anna Karenina feeding her Siamese cat on set, 1948

 

 

Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra and her Siamese cat Ting Ling.

Vivien Leigh as Cleopatra and her Siamese cat Ting Ling

 

 

Vivien Leigh in movie St. Martin's Lane - Liberty finds black and white cat on her bed

Vivien Leigh in movie St. Martin’s Lane – Liberty finds black and white cat on her bed


 

Vivien Leigh on the set of 'The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone with one of the cat extras.

Vivien Leigh on the set of ‘The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone with one of the cat extras.

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