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Photographed on October 29, 1932
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Actress Ann Andrews was born in Los Angeles in 1895. Though she studied acting for just three months, her theater career in California and New York spanned more than three decades. Andrews made her first stage performance in Los Angeles in 1916 in a production of the Russian play Nju by Ossip Dymow, in which she played the title role. She continued in the part when the production traveled to New York City. Her productions were well received; the audience met her performance in Edward A. Paulton’s farce Her Temporary Husband with “shouts and laughter, . . . the comely Ann Andrews . . . seems to be growing in grace and skill as the season jogs along.” 1

Carl Van Vechten and Ann Andrews exchanged letters for many years, gossiping about theater successes and failures and sharing their love of cats. Andrews often enclosed newspaper and magazine comics about cats and their owners in her letters to Van Vechten, who wrote a book about cats called The Tiger in the House in 1920 and who donated the Pollock Collection of Books about Cats to the Yale University Library. Andrews peppered her letters with exclamations like “Cats in the Belfry!” and referred to Van Vechten as a “cat angel.”

In her letters to Van Vechten, Ann Andrews often used quirky greetings and endearments specific to their friendship. Van Vechten, who was known among his friends for the unique and clever ways he signed letters—such as “Pats and purrs to you!”2 or “Hearts and flowers and gold and pearls to you”3—must have enjoyed being referred to as “Fabulous Carlo” and “Carlo da Vinci.” Other salutations reflected their mutual affection for cats: “Cool Cat Carlo,” “Carlo King of the Cool Cats,” and “My sainted cat of God” were favorites.

In response to a book about cats that Van Vechten sent her in 1964, Andrews wrote a brief telegram: “Another one of your gifts is to discover jewels.”4

1 Alexander Woollcott “The Play: Old Time Farce at the Frazee” New York Times 1 Sept. 1922
2 Van Vechten to Fannie Hurst 23 Aug. 1932 Letters of Carl Van Vechten Ed., Bruce Kellner New Haven: Yale, 1987 p. 127
3 Van Vechten to Ethel Waters 6 Nov. 1944 Letters of Carl Van Vechten p. 206
4 Andrews telegram to Van Vechten 21 Oct. 1964 Van Vechten Papers Beinecke Library Yale University

 

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