Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat and other felines of the World Wide Interweb, take note: If you want your fame to be timeless, curl up to a celebrity.
That much is clear after one spin through "Hollywood Cats" (ACC Distribution, $45), the new photo book of classic silver-screen actors and their animals — some personal pets, some on-screen costars, others merely props for the studios' publicity machines.
There's Maurice Chevalier, mugging for the camera in 1929 with the acting cat Puzzums, the pair in matching hats and bow ties. Mia Farrow with her dear Malcolm, a deaf cat that would eat only human baby food. Laurence Olivier at home in London with New Boy, one of wife Vivien Leigh's Seal Point Siamese cats. And Marlon Brando in his "On the Waterfront" days, getting smooched by an unidentified furry admirer.
They're all in Gareth Abbott and Simon Crocker's new book, which culls its pictures from the John Kobal Foundation, the London-based archive of the film historian and photography collector who died in 1991.
Lest anyone wonder if anything could top the mass appeal of the modern cat video, Abbott and Crocker remind us of the likes of Whitey. That snowy fur ball shares the frame with Betty Grable in an RKO Radio Pictures publicity portrait. Sure, Grable was a legend, but in his heyday Whitey could meow in three distinct ways on cue, thus commanding his own paycheck of $125 a week — adjusting for inflation, more than $2,100 today.
How many Internet cats can say that?