1. Morris was discovered in 1968, after a staff member at Hinsdale Humane Society noticed the cat’s charming personality and contacted Bob Martwick, a professional animal trainer who worked for the Leo Burnett advertising agency.
2. Martwick took Morris to a casting for a 9Lives cat food commercial. After impressing the art director he was cast as the mascot.
According to Martwick, “he [Morris] jumped on the table… and he walked right up to the art director, the big cheese, and bumped him in the head. And then Morris just sat back. The art director said, ‘This is the Clark Gable of cats.’”
3. Morris (voiced in commercials by John Irwin) was portrayed in the advertising campaign as “the world’s most finicky cat”, and could only eat 9Lives brand cat food.
4. The ad campaign was an overnight success and Morris became the face of 9Lives.
Morris was reportedly the prototype for Garfield the cat.
5. Morris quickly became a media darling, he even had to have his own personal secretary to answer all of his fan mail.
Morris seen here hanging out with Edith Head and Betty White.
6. He also went on star in the Robert Altman film “The Long Goodbye” with Elliott Gould, and in the movie “Shamus” with Burt Reynolds and Dyan Cannon.
Morris won the PATSY, the animal equivalent of the Oscar award in 1972 and 1973.
7. In 1974 he was even the subject of a book, “Morris An Intimate Biography” by Mary Daniels.
8. 9Lives even marketed non-cat food products, capitalizing on his popularity, like glasses…
11. and even ties.
12. Morris the Cat died in July of 1978, at the age of 19. Morris’ obituary appeared in newspapers worldwide. Since then, three different cats have gone on to play “Morris,” and in honor of the original all were rescued from shelters.
13. From 1969-1978, Morris completed 58 commercials. See four original Morris’ 9Lives commercials below:
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