Cleveland Amory

Last updated

Cleveland Amory
Cleveland Amory 1974.JPG
Cleveland Amory in 1974
BornSeptember 2, 1917
Nahant, Massachusetts
DiedOctober 14, 1998(1998-10-14) (aged 81)
Manhattan, New York
Resting placeBlack Beauty Ranch, Murchison, Texas
OccupationAuthor, commentator, reporter, and animal rights activist
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma mater Harvard University
Notable worksThe Proper Bostonians (1947)
The Cat Who Came for Christmas (1987)
Spouse(1) Cora Fields Craddock (m. 1941–1947, divorced)
(2) Martha Hodge (m. Dec. 31, 1954–1977, divorced)

Cleveland Amory (September 2, 1917 – October 14, 1998) was an American author, reporter, television critic, commentator and animal rights activist. He originally was known for writing a series of popular books poking fun at the pretensions and customs of society, starting with The Proper Bostonians in 1947. From the 1950s through the 1990s, he had a long career as a reporter and writer for national magazines, and as a television and radio commentator. In the late 1980s and 1990s, he was best known for his bestselling books about his adopted cat, Polar Bear, starting with The Cat Who Came for Christmas (1987). [1] Amory devoted much of his life to promoting animal rights, particularly protection of animals from hunting and vivisection; the executive director of the Humane Society of the United States described Amory as "the founding father of the modern animal protection movement." [2]


Early life

Amory was born September 2, 1917, into a privileged and established Boston Brahmin family; his parents were Robert Amory and Leonore Cobb Amory, daughter of Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb. [3] During his childhood, he had a great affection for his aunt Lucy "Lu" Creshore, who took in many stray animals and was instrumental in helping Amory get his first puppy as a child, an event that Amory remembered seventy years later as the most memorable moment of his childhood.

In 1936, when he was 18, Amory held a summer job as tutor and companion to 13-year-old William Zinsser, who grew up to be a notable writer and editor. Zinsser later recalled that they had many discussions about their shared interest in journalism, which at that time was not considered a suitable profession for upper-class young men. After attending Milton Academy, [4] Amory went to Harvard where he was president of The Harvard Crimson .


Early career and social history trilogy

After graduating from Harvard in 1939, Amory became the youngest editor ever hired by The Saturday Evening Post , a position he held until 1941 when he left to serve in the Second World War. Amory served in military intelligence in the United States Army from 1941 to 1943. Upon returning, he worked as a writer and reporter for various publications. Around 1945, Amory witnessed a bullfight in Nogales, Mexico which strongly influenced him to become an activist for animal rights.

Starting in the late 1940s, Amory gained fame for writing a series of bestselling social history books, starting with The Proper Bostonians (1947), and continuing through The Last Resorts (1952) and Who Killed Society? (1960), that satirized the pretensions of the upper class society, particularly in Boston, where he had grown up. In 1952, he became a regular columnist for the weekly magazine Saturday Review . He continued to write the column for 20 years, until 1972. He also wrote articles for many other publications. In the spring of 1955, he traveled to France with his then-wife Martha for an assignment with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. [5] Amory agreed to ghostwrite the Duchess' autobiography, but after realizing that she wanted him to sugar-coat her life, he quickly left the project. [5]

Today show commentator

In 1952, Amory was hired as a commentator on the NBC morning news and talk television program, Today , which at that time was new and the first of its genre in the world. He provided a televised commentary every few weeks, usually containing light humor or satire. Because his subject matter tended to be light, the network did not review his planned commentaries in advance. Amory continued as a popular regular commentator for eleven years until 1963, when he was fired in one of his first controversial moments relating to his views on animal rights.

In 1963, Amory learned that the American Legion in Harmony, North Carolina planned to sponsor a "bunny bop" rabbit killing contest. At that time, wild rabbits in the United States were widely regarded as both agricultural pests and game animals for hunting and eating. After learning of the "bunny bop," Amory and his assistant traveled to Harmony to engage in a debate with its planners. [5] When he returned, instead of the usual lighthearted commentary expected by the Today show management, Amory proposed, on air and during viewers' breakfast hour, the formation of a hunt club where human hunters would be tracked down and killed for sport, arguing that killing hunters in cold blood would be humane and kind due to their overpopulation. [5] Viewer response was overwhelmingly negative and Amory was quickly reprimanded by NBC President Julian Goodman. [5] Just a few months later, Amory again voiced controversial animal rights opinions during his Today show segment by speaking at length about the evils of vivisection — the abuse of animals in laboratory experiments. [5] Although Amory did not entirely oppose the scientific use of animals, he strongly believed that many of them were being inhumanely and needlessly mistreated. [5] His commentary drew opposition from a number of scientists, and he was abruptly fired from the Today show with no warning or reprimand. [5]

Later career and Cat trilogy

As time went by, the subject matter of Amory's published work increasingly focused on animal rights. From 1963 to 1976, Amory was a television critic for TV Guide magazine, [6] where he drew the ire of hunters for his biting criticisms of sports hunting programs. His book Man Kind? Our Incredible War on Wildlife (1974) detailed inhumane hunting practices, sparking an editorial in The New York Times and a CBS documentary on hunting, The Guns of Autumn. Amory also presented a daily radio essay called "Curmudgeon at Large". Later he wrote a syndicated column called "Animail", and served as a senior contributing editor of Parade magazine from 1980 to 1998.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Amory wrote another series of bestselling nonfiction books about Polar Bear, a stray, starving white cat whom he had rescued from a Manhattan street on Christmas Eve 1977. The Cat Who Came for Christmas (1987) spent twelve weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. Its sequels, The Cat and the Curmudgeon (1990) and The Best Cat Ever (1993, published after Polar Bear's death), also were bestsellers.

In 1988, Amory made his only feature film appearance in the role of "Mr. Danforth" in the comedy-drama Mr. North , starring Anthony Edwards. [7]

Animal rights work

Director and president of organizations

Beginning in the early 1960s, Amory, while maintaining his career as an outspoken reporter and commentator, began to devote an increasing amount of his time to animal rights organizations. In 1962, he joined the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), remaining there until 1970. [8] Amory also served as president of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) from 1987 until his death in 1998.

The Fund for Animals

In 1967, Amory founded the Fund for Animals, with a planned focus on protecting animals from hunters and creating animal sanctuaries. [9] The Fund struggled during the first years of its existence, but became known in 1979 for sponsoring a removal by air and land of 580 Grand Canyon burros slated for destruction by the National Park Service. [3] Amory later fought a similar battle to prevent the killing of San Clemente Island's goats by the Department of Defense. [3] By the time Amory died in 1998, the Fund had a "$2 million budget, more than 200,000 members, and three animal sanctuaries, and had initiated several high profile animal rescues, including the organic 'painting' of baby harp seals off the Magdalen Islands in Canada to ensure that their fur was worthless to hunters." [5]

In 2005, a few years after Amory's death, HSUS formed a corporate combination with the Fund for Animals. [10]

Black Beauty Ranch

Inspired by Anna Sewell's novel Black Beauty , Amory established the Black Beauty Ranch, a 1,460-acre sanctuary that sheltered various abused animals including chimpanzees, burros and elephants. [11] Located in Murchison, Texas, this ranch accommodated over 600 resident animals. [11] Amory's goal when creating the animal refuge was to "create a sanctuary where its inhabitants would roam unfettered and unbothered by human taskmasters." [11] The words on the ranch's gate are taken from the final lines of Sewell's novel, "I have nothing to fear, / and my story ends. / My troubles are all over, / and I am at home." [11]

The original impetus for creating the ranch was to have a sanctuary for the many burros rescued in 1979 and the early 1980s by the Fund for Animals. The Ranch became the largest sanctuary sponsored by the Fund. One of Black Beauty's most famous residents was a 25-year-old chimp named Nim Chimpsky who had been used in language experiments when young, then sold as a laboratory animal. [11]

The ranch was the fulfillment of a longtime dream for Amory. He explained in his 1997 book Ranch of Dreams, "It was not long after reading Black Beauty for the first time that I had a dream that one day I would have a place which would embody everything Black Beauty loved about his final home. I dreamed that I would go even a step further—at my place none of the horses would ever wear a bit or blinkers or check reins, or in fact have reins at all, because they would never pull a cart, a carriage, a cab, or anything else. Indeed, they would never even be ridden- they would just run free." [11]

Black Beauty Ranch is currently operated by HSUS. [10]

Support of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

In 1978, Amory purchased the first oceangoing vessel for Captain Paul Watson, the founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Watson used this boat in his first actions against the Japanese whaling fleet. [12] Amory took part in many campaigns such as the one waged by Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society against whaling and sealing. [3]

Influence on celebrities

Amory, who had many prominent persons and celebrities in his social circle, was noted for influencing celebrities to support animal rights. He reportedly enlisted Henry Fonda, Andy Williams and Grace Kelly, and also recruited Doris Day, Angie Dickinson, and Mary Tyler Moore for his campaigns against fur clothing.

Personal life

Amory was married twice. His first wife was Cora Fields Craddock in 1941; they divorced in 1947. His second wife was actress Martha Hodge, whom he married on December 31, 1954. The couple divorced in 1977. Amory had one stepdaughter by his second marriage.

Amory enjoyed playing chess and was a member of the New York Athletic Club. [13] [14]


Amory died in 1998 of an abdominal aortic aneurysm. [15] He was cremated and his ashes were spread across Black Beauty Ranch [16] by his favorite burro, named Friendly.

Today, on Black Beauty Ranch, a stone monument to Amory stands beside the monument and burial site of his beloved cat, Polar Bear. [11]

Awards and honors

Amory was inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2000, for his dedicated work on behalf of animals. [17]



All books are nonfiction, unless noted otherwise.


See also

Related Research Articles

Henry Spira 20th century animal rights advocate

Henry Spira was a Belgian-American animal rights advocate, regarded by some as one of the most effective animal advocates of the 20th century.

A canned hunt is a trophy hunt which is not "fair chase", typically by having game animals kept in a confined area such as in a fenced ranch to prevent the animals' escape and make tracking easier for the hunter, in order to increase the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill. The term has been used for driven grouse shooting, in which large areas of Britain are farmed for red grouse. According to WordNet, a canned hunt is a "hunt for animals that have been raised on game ranches until they are mature enough to be killed for trophy collections."

Overpopulation in domestic pets is the surplus of pets, such as cats, dogs, and exotic animals. In the United States, six to eight million animals are brought to shelters each year, of which an estimated three to four million are subsequently euthanized, including 2.7 million considered healthy and adoptable. Euthanasia numbers have declined since the 1970s, when U.S. shelters euthanized an estimated 12 to 20 million animals. Most humane societies, animal shelters and rescue groups urge animal caregivers to have their animals spayed or neutered to prevent the births of unwanted and accidental litters that could contribute to this dynamic.

Humane Society of the United States Non-profit organisation in the USA

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is an American nonprofit organization that focuses on animal welfare and opposes animal-related cruelties of national scope. It uses strategies that are beyond the abilities of local organizations. It works on issues including companion animals, wildlife, farm animals, horses and other equines, and animals used in research, testing and education. As of 2001, the group's major campaigns targeted factory farming, animal blood sports, the fur trade, puppy mills, and wildlife abuse.

Safari Club International American hunters rights organization

Safari Club International (SCI) is a US organization composed of hunters dedicated to protecting the freedom to hunt. SCI has more than 50,000 members and 180 local chapters. SCI members agree to abide by the organization's code of ethics, which includes making a positive contribution to wildlife and ecosystems, complying with game laws, and assisting game and fish officers.

Wayne Pacelle American activist

Wayne Pacelle is one of the leading contemporary animal advocates, having founded or led a set of major animal rights organizations, negotiated agreements on animal rights with major American companies, and helped conceive of and pass statewide ballot measures and federal laws. He is also a two-time New York Times best-selling author.

Velma Bronn Johnston

Velma Bronn Johnston, also known as Wild Horse Annie, was an animal welfare activist. She led a campaign to stop the eradication of mustangs and free-roaming burros from public lands. She was instrumental in passing legislation to stop using aircraft and land vehicles from inhumanely capturing wild horses and burros.

Lizzy Lind af Hageby British activist, editor

Emilie Augusta Louise "Lizzy" Lind af Hageby was a Swedish-British feminist and animal rights advocate who became a prominent anti-vivisection activist in England in the early 20th century.

Women have played a central role in animal advocacy since the 19th century. The animal advocacy movement – embracing animal rights, animal welfare, and anti-vivisectionism – has been disproportionately initiated and led by women, particularly in the United Kingdom. Women are more likely to support animal rights than men. A 1996 study of adolescents by Linda Pifer suggested that factors that may partially explain this discrepancy include attitudes towards feminism and science, scientific literacy, and the presence of a greater emphasis on "nurturance or compassion" amongst women. Although vegetarianism does not necessarily imply animal advocacy, a 1992 market research study conducted by the Yankelovich research organization concluded that "of the 12.4 million people [in the US] who call themselves vegetarian, 68% are female, while only 32% are male".

Tiger Ranch Cat Sanctuary was a 27-acre (110,000 m2) cat sanctuary located in Frazer Township, Pennsylvania and operated by Linda Marie Bruno for 14 years.

Humanitarian League

The Humanitarian League was a British radical advocacy group, formed by Henry S. Salt, based in London, which operated between 1891 and 1919.

<i>The Cat Who Came for Christmas</i> 1987 book by Cleveland Amory

The Cat Who Came for Christmas is the first book in a trilogy written by Cleveland Amory, an American author who wrote extensively about animal rights. Amory recounts his rescue and adoption of Polar Bear, a cat he featured in two future books. It was first published by Little, Brown and Company in 1987 and then in paperback by Penguin Books in 1988.

Fanny was a female Asian elephant who spent the majority of her life in a small zoo in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

Caroline Earle White

Caroline Earle White (1833–1916) was an American philanthropist and anti-vivisection activist. She co-founded the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) in 1867, founded its women's branch (WPSPCA) in 1869, and founded the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) in 1883.

Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society

The Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society was an animal rights advocacy organisation, co-founded in England, in 1903, by Lizzy Lind af Hageby, a Swedish feminist, and Nina Douglas-Hamilton, Duchess of Hamilton.

Beauty Without Cruelty (BWC) is an animal issues charity in South Africa, established in 1975. Initial focus was animal testing, fur and ivory. It has subsequently expanded to include educating and offering kind options in all areas of animal exploitation. Beauty Without Cruelty is an animal rights organisation with a primary objective to educate and inform the public about the exploitation, abuse and suffering of all animals and to offer humane, non-animal alternatives, to replace cruel and harmful lifestyle choices. They receive no government or lottery funding and rely entirely on the generosity of supporters to continue work for animals. Beauty Without Cruelty means living without cruelty.

The New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) is a national, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization “dedicated to ending the use of animals in research, testing, and science education” and replacing them with "modern alternatives that are ethically, humanely, and scientifically superior."

Ernest Bell (activist) Publisher and animal welfare campaigner

Ernest Bell was an English author, publisher and activist for animal rights and welfare, humanitarianism and vegetarianism.


  1. Unti Bernard (November 15, 1998). "Cleveland Amory". The Animals' Agenda Online. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007.
  2. "Making Burros Fly: Cleveland Amory, Animal Rescue Pioneer". Humane Society of the United States. August 28, 2006. Archived from the original on September 5, 2008.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Bernard, Unti. "Cleveland Amory."The Animals' Agenda 18.6 (1998): 12.
  4. Nemy, Enid (October 16, 1998). "Cleveland Amory Dies at 81; Writer and Animal Advocate (Published 1998)". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Greenwald, Marilyn. "" A Pen as Sharp as a Stiletto": Cleveland Amory as Critic and Activist." Journalism history 32.1 (2006): 13–21.
  6. "Best-selling author a pioneer advocate for animal rights". Toledo Blade. October 16, 1998.
  7. Mahany, Barbara (November 8, 1987). "Amory lets cat out of the bag and into a book". Chicago Tribune.
  8. Unto, Bernard. "The HSUS and The Fund: A Shared Visionary and a Shared Future". Humane Society of the United States. Archived from the original on September 9, 2010.
  9. Mozingo, Joe (October 16, 1998). "Obituaries; Cleveland Amory; Best-Selling Author, Critic and Activist for Animals Was 81". LA Times.
  10. 1 2 "Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch Home Page". Archived from the original on February 4, 2005. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wand, Kelly. The Animal Rights Movement. Greenhaven Press: 2003.
  12. "Making Burros Fly – Remembering Cleveland Amory". April 13, 2006. Archived from the original on October 6, 2009. Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  13. Long, Tom (October 16, 1998). "Author, Animal Activist Cleveland Amory Dies". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  14. Greenwald, Marilyn S., ed. (2009). Cleveland Amory: Media Curmudgeon & Animal Rights Crusader. UPNE. p. 46. ISBN   978-1584656814 . Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  15. "Amory eulogized for wit, work for animal rights". The Sunday Gazette. November 14, 1998.
  16. Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. (2 volume set). McFarland. p. 19. ISBN   978-1-4766-2599-7 . Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  17. U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame Archived February 6, 2016, at the Wayback Machine .
  18. Amory, Cleveland (1962). "Who Killed Society?".

Further reading