Cats in 20th Century History (Part 1 Felines in Film)

From canvases, the first felines in film entered the new dynamic art form of silent movies to eventually share the screen with such stars as Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, Clara Bow, and Mary Pickford.


Greta Garbo and Cat by Cecil Beaton 1951, felines in film

Greta Garbo and Cat
by Cecil Beaton


Charlie Chaplin and cat, felines in film, cats in film

Charlie Chaplin and Cat


Clara Bow and Cat felines in film

Jean White and Cat


Mary Pickford and Cat cats in film, felines in film

Mary Pickford and Cat

A Maltese cat named Pepper became the first feline film star.  Born under a sound stage at Keystone Studios in 1912, Pepper was discovered by Mack Sennett who introduced her to the silver screen in 1913 in “A Little Hero”. 

felines in film, cats in film, Pepper, felines in film


In that film she was paired with her lifelong partner Teddy the Dog.  Pepper appeared in 17 films throughout her career, and in one of her more demanding roles she played checkers with the comedian Ben Turpin.The cross eyed Turpin and Pepper appeared together in Are Waitresses Safe? (1917), Whose Little Wife are You (1918), When Love is Blind (1919), Trying to Get Along (1919), The Dentist (1919) and The Quack Doctor (1920).The cat also frequently appeared with Marie Prevost in His Hidden Purpose (1918), Never Too Old (1919), When Love is Blind (1919), and The Dentist (1919).


Marie Prevost and Pepper first cat star, felines in film

Marie Prevost and Pepper


Marie Prevost and Pepper cats in film, felines in film

Marie Prevost and Pepper


Sennett thought highly of Pepper insuring her for a record $5,000.00.  Pepper remained at the studio for 16 years until her death in 1928. 


First cat in film Pepper in the news, felines in film


Pepper the cat in the news



Want to know more about the cat in history, art and literature? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 


Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats



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  1. Brenda Tataryn says

    The actress with cat labeled Clara Bow…is not Clara. It is twenties starlet , Jean White. She was not very well known but this picture keeps getting erroneously labeled as a Clara Bow pic on so many sites it’s dizzying!

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