Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Facebook followers may remember this unusual acquisition. The jest of what is written on the back, in French but somewhat obscured, seems to be Souvenir of … and … of Madame Jenny Bell Theatre 8. Oct. 1910. Jenny, looking quite mad indeed, poses with collaged cats and a monkey – what is that strange swing the one cat is on? (Photo collage is prized in my collection – see also Cat Photo Collage.)
A quick bit of sleuthing (and some good luck) reveals a notice in the October 9, 1910 issue of the San Francisco Call announcing Jennie and Her Trained Angora Cats and Performing Dogs featured at the Wigwam. Dogs! And no mention of the monkey! This means that our French owner of the card must have been visiting San Francisco – since we know Jenny and her cats were there that week – evidently at the Bell immediately followed by the Wigwam. I found a rather excellent photo of the Bell Theater which I share here from the Cinema Treasure website. While it seems likely to be the one in question I mostly see listings that say it didn’t open until 1911. Hmmm. October is late 1910.
Back in 2005 I read a New York Times article about the Russian cat circus visiting Manhattan and I purchased tickets and dragged ever-patient Kim off before he knew what hit him. I can see online now that there is a fair amount of controversy about Yuri Kuklachev and his cat troupe. (Russians have an especially deep history of training animals – I remember being taken to see performing animals in Moscow one night when I was on a tour there in 1994. Cats, dogs and much to my surprise, ducks and goats.) All I can say is, it takes a whole lot of cat treats to make a cat circus run. Speaking as someone who has trouble asking the cats to move so I can rollover in bed, I probably don’t have a future career in cat on-command trick training. I am shown with Yuri and furry performer below. Cookie and Blackie take note – this is a working kitty.