Friday, October 27, 2023

Friends Fur Life Blogathon Arrives


The time has come to honor our furry acquaintances.  The Friends Fur Life Blogathon is now here. I will be updating this page as I get the chance.  Keep coming back to see all the fellow bloggers tributes to the non-human friends.

Realweegiemidget Reviews: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

The Midnite Drive-In: A Tribute to Orangey

Debra She Who SeeksAlligator Loki

Hamlette's Soliloquy: 101 Dalmatians

Elisabeth Grace FoleyGreyfriars Bobby

Diary of a Movie Maniac: Man's Best Friend



Critica Retro: That Darn Cat!



 The Stop Button: Buddy


She Who Seeks: Rocket Racoon


Orangey: A Tribute


This is my entry in the Friends Fur Life Blogathon hosted by Hamlette's Soliloquy and yours truly.

Who is "Orangey", you may ask?

The big stars in the animal world start with the hero dogs, like Rin TinTin or Strongheart or Lassie. Or even, (God help us), Benji.  Naturally dogs are near and dear to the hearts of many human pet owners, so it stands to reason that, at least in the early days of film, dogs could be reigning box office champions.

Also on the list of animal stars are horses.  The first that probably come to mind for most of us are Silver and Scout, the mounts for The Lone Ranger and Tonto, respectively.  Or maybe Roy Rogers' steed, Trigger. Some of the more nostalgic may think of Rex the Wonder Horse.

Of course, neither of those previous listings are all-inclusive. There are many others that might come to mind.  But let me posit a question: when I say "cats in movies", what famous cats come to mind. If you are like me, probably none, right off the bat.  Disney put out many, many movies that featured cats, but I could not think of even one by name.

Then I started to watch a few old sci-fi movies, and noticed that one cat looked like the same cat in them.  Some research had to be done, because, unlike some of the dogs and horses mentioned, the cat did not receive a credit.  But thanks to the internet I did discover that cat had a name. Orangey (or Orangey Minerva).

Orangey had one hell of a career in film, appearing in almost a dozen movies and several guest spots on TV shows. He lived for 17 years, the pet of an animal trainer named Frank Inn. His first film appearance was as a star (take that, Hollywood headliners). He appeared in the movie Rhubarb, as a cat who, through the will of his former owner, inherited a baseball team. In the film's early portion, the cat is a rough and ready stray who is not afraid to start a fight, even with dogs.  The owner names him Rhubarb, which was a slang term referring to on-field arguments or brawls on the baseball diamond.




The comedy starred Ray Milland and the team, as tropes of sports teams in comedy film usually are, is at the bottom of the league and the laughingstock of everyone else, even more so as it becomes public that their new owner is not of the human variety.  And, as also a trope, the team starts winning not long after the transfer of ownership.

My first experience in seeing Orangey, though, was in science fiction films, since that has always been my meat and potatoes.  In The Incredible Shrinking Man, Orangey had an incredibly intense and riveting scene with the star of the movie, Grant Williams (as Scott Carey, who has been gradually shrinking in size due to contact with a mysterious cloud/mist.  Orangey apparently thinks Scott is a new kind of mouse and chases him into the dollhouse of his daughter.




Orangey got to play another oversize cat in Village of the Giants as the result of eating some manufactured chemical substance created by a local nerdy science student. But most of the rest of his acting career he played normal sized cats who were companions of the main (or sometimes subsidiary) characters.

In Breakfast at Tiffany's, he played Holly Golightly's boon companion. 



He was Neutron, the pet of a scientist in This Island Earth.  




And along with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre (a horror Trifecta if there ever was one), Orangey played Cleopatra  in The Comedy of Terrors.




But Orangey also had a TV career.  In the TV version of Our Miss Brooks, he had a recurring role as Miss Brooks' house cat Minerva. (Obviously gender identity was not a problem for Orangey...)  

 Orangey also had guest roles on such shows as The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, and My Favorite Martian.

One of the last appearances by Orangey was as the companion of Catwoman (Eartha Kitt) in the third season of the 60's TV series Batman.  




All in all, Orangey had, at least according to IMDb, a credit list of 38 appearances in movies and TV.  He also had the honor of being the only two-time winner of the PATSY. (That stands for Picture Animal Top Star of the Year, an award that was given out from the American Humane Association from 1951 to 1976). Orangey won the second ever PATSY award in 1952 for the aforementioned Rhubarb, and then won it again in 1961 for his role in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Orangey passed away at the ripe old age of 17 and was ensconced in that final resting place for many of Hollywood's elite, Forest Lawn Memorial Park. But like many stars of old, he still lives on in memories of such great films.  If ever there was a cat that deserved a star on Hollywood's Walk Of Fame, it would be him. (Note: Only three animals or on the Walk of Fame, and they are all dogs; Lassie, Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart.  I won't get on a soapbox about it, but I think there ought to be several others.)


This post is dedicated to Pennie (2008-2023), a true companion of my own, not a star in Hollywood, but a star in my heart.