For years, English theatre had a love affair with cats. In addition to keeping the theatre free of mice, many actors considered the cats to be good luck charms. Cats also helped calm the occasional case of stage fright. The theatre felines were so comfortable in their role that they would sometimes wander onstage during live performances, upstaging the actors.
The most famous theatre cat was named Beerbohm. He was named after the British stage actor Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Beerbohm handled vermin control at London’s Gielgud Theatre for an amazing twenty years, from the 1970’s to the early 1990’s.
Beerbohm was quite a stately feline, often picking favorite actors to shower with attention. He would also find a way to wander onstage at least once during every show’s run. Like most cats, he was not above getting into trouble. He ate feathers from hats, and played havoc with a collection of stuffed birds used as a decoration on one set. For one scene of The House of Bernard Alba, the stage was filled with tons of sand; Beerbohm was quite impressed to be given such a large litter-box and wasted no time in putting it to good use!
Upon retiring, Beerbohm went to live in Kent with the theatre company’s carpenter. When Beerbohm died in March 1995, his obituary ran on the front page of the theatre newspaper The Stage. His portrait (the image accompanies this post) still hangs in the Gielgud.
For other amazing cat stories, check out 100 Cats Who Changed Civilization by Sam Stall, available on Amazon.
Photo Source: Purr-n-Fur.org.UK