Cleveland Amory

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Cleveland Amory
Cleveland Amory 1974
Amory in 1974.
Born September 2, 1917
Died October 14, 1998(1998-10-14) (aged 81)
Alma mater Harvard University
Notable works The Cat Who Came for Christmas

Cleveland Amory (September 2, 1917 – October 14, 1998) was an American author who devoted his life to promoting animal rights. He was perhaps best known for his books about his cat, named Polar Bear, whom he saved from the Manhattan streets on Christmas Eve 1977.[1] The executive director of the Humane Society of the United States described Amory as "the founding father of the modern animal protection movement."[2]


Amory was born September 2, 1917, to Robert Amory and Leonore Cobb Amory, daughter of Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb. Born into a privileged and established Boston family, Cleveland spent the first half-century of his life as a social historian, novelist, satirist, and cultural critic.[3] It was not until he was 18, at his mentorship to William Zinsser, that he fostered a realization that journalism was his forum.[18] He attended Harvard where he was president of The Harvard Crimson. Upon graduation, Amory became the youngest editor ever of The Saturday Evening Post. He took part in many campaigns such as the one waged by Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society against whaling and sealing.[3] In the early 1980s he opened his Fund for Animal's treasury to support a removal by air and land of 580 Grand Canyon burros slated for destruction by the National Park Service.[3] Soon after, he fought a similar battle to prevent the killing of San Clemente Island's goats by the Department of Defense.[3] Amory eventually settled down and got married to a woman named Martha Hodge. He traveled to France in the spring of 1955 with her for his assignment with the Duke and Duchess.[4] He agreed to ghostwrite her autobiography but after realizing that the former Wallis Warfield Simpson just wanted him to sugar-coat her life, he quickly dumped the project.[4] During the Second World War Amory served in military intelligence in the United States Army from 1941 to 1943. He joined the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States in 1962, remaining there until 1970.[5] In 1967, he founded the Fund for Animals.[6] Amory was also the president of the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) from 1987 until his death of an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 1998.[7]

He also was a television critic for TV Guide during the 1960s and 1970s.[8] Amory is noted for recruiting celebrities such as Doris Day, Angie Dickinson, and Mary Tyler Moore for his campaigns against fur clothing. While he was a popular writer and spokesperson, he was a controversial one nonetheless. One of his first controversial moments happened while he held a position at the Today show. After learning about the "bunny bash" in North Carolina, Amory and his assistant Probst traveled to Harmony to engage in a debate with its planners.[4] The Today show management expected him to give a lighthearted commentary about the trip when he returned, but it was everything except lighthearted.[4] On the show, he proposed the formation of a hunt club where hunters would be tracked down and killed-for sport.[16] Initiating arguments he had heard many times before, he proposed that the killing of hunters would be, at its core, "humane".[4] After all, he noted, because of the hunters' overpopulation, killing them in cold blood would actually be kind.[4] Today show viewers did not see or enjoy the humor in this commentary however. The reaction was almost all negative in fact. Amory was reprimanded by NBC's President Julian Goodman almost immediately.[4] In another incident, within only a few months of his hunt-the-hunters commentary, he once again brought up his opinions regarding animal rights without prior script approval.[22] This time however, he spoke at length on the Today show about the evils of vivisection-the abuse of animals in laboratory experiments.[4] Even though he did not oppose the use of animals in the experiments entirely, he strongly believed that many of them were being needlessly mistreated and treated inhumanely.[4] This resulted in outspoken scientists voicing their opposition to what they heard on the show. Only this time, he was given no warning or reprimand; he was fired.[4] He 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.[9] He enjoyed playing chess and was a member of the New York Athletic Club.[10][11]

In 1988, he made his only film appearance in the role of Mr. Danforth in Mr. North.[12]

While he spent considerable time as an outspoken reporter and advocate, he still remained committed to his organization Fund for Animals. The Fund struggled during the first decade or so of its existence, but by the time Amory died in 1998, it had a "$2 million budget, more than 200,000 members, and three animal sanctuaries, and had initiated several highprofile animal rescues, including the organic 'painting' of baby harp seals off the Magdelene Islands in Canada to ensure that their fur was worthless to hunters."[4] In 2005, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) formed a corporate combination with the Fund for Animals. The HSUS now operates the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a sanctuary for animals in Texas.[13]

Amory was the subject of a 2006 biography Making Burros Fly by Julie Hoffman Marshall.[14] He is also the subject of a 2009 book by Marilyn S. Greenwald, Cleveland Amory: Media Curmudgeon & Animal Rights Crusader.[11]

Amory was inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame in 2000, for his dedicated work on behalf of animals.[15]

Black Beauty Ranch[edit]

Inspired by Anna Sewell's novel Black Beauty, Cleveland Amory established the Black Beauty ranch, a 1,460-acre sanctuary that sheltered various abused animals including chimpanzees, burros and elephants.[16] Located in east Texas in a town called Murchison, this ranch accommodated six-hundred-plus resident animals.[16] One of Black Beauty's most famous residents, however, was a 25-year-old chimp named Nim Chimpsky.[16] Amory's goal when creating the animal refuge was to "create a sanctuary where its inhabitants would roam unfettered and unbothered by human taskmasters."[16] The words on the ranch's gate are actually even 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."[16] For Amory, an animal-rights advocate, this ranch wasn't to be just an ordinary ranch- it was to be a ranch of dreams. As he explains 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."[16] Today, in memory of Cleveland Amory, a stone monument of Amory stands beside the monument of his beloved cat, Polar Bear, whom he rescued from starvation years ago on Christmas Eve.[16]



  • The Cat Who Came for Christmas
  • The Cat and the Curmudgeon
  • The Best Cat Ever
  • Hometown
  • The Proper Bostonians
  • Who Killed Society? (1960)[17]
  • Cleveland Amory's Compleat Cat
  • The last resorts
  • Animail
  • Newport: There she sits
  • Cat Tales: Classic Stories from Favorite Writers
  • Man Kind? Our Incredible War on Wildlife
  • 1902 Edition of The Sears, Roebuck Catalog
  • The Trouble with Nowadays : A Curmudgeon Strikes Back
  • Ranch of Dreams: A Lifelong Protector of Animals Shares the Story of His Extraordinary Sanctuary
  • The Proper Bostonians

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Unti Bernard (November 15, 1998). "Cleveland Amory". The Animals' Agenda Online. 
  2. ^ "Making Burros Fly: Cleveland Amory, Animal Rescue Pioneer". Humane Society of the United States. August 28, 2006. 
  3. ^ a b c d Bernard, Unti. "Cleveland Amory."The Animals' Agenda 18.6 (1998): 12.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Greenwald, Marilyn. "" A Pen as Sharp as a Stiletto": Cleveland Amory as Critic and Activist." Journalism history 32.1 (2006): 13–21.
  5. ^ Unto, Bernard. "The HSUS and The Fund: A Shared Visionary and a Shared Future". Humane Society of the United States. 
  6. ^ Mozingo, Joe (October 16, 1998). "Obituaries; Cleveland Amory; Best-Selling Author, Critic and Activist for Animals Was 81". LA Times. 
  7. ^ "Amory eulogized for wit, work for animal rights". The Sunday Gazette. November 14, 1998. 
  8. ^ "Best-selling author a pioneer advocate for animal rights". Toledo Blade. October 16, 1998. 
  9. ^ "Making Burros Fly – Remembering Cleveland Amory". April 13, 2006. Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ Long, Tom (October 16, 1998). "Author, Animal Activist Cleveland Amory Dies". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b Greenwald, Marilyn S., ed. (2009). Cleveland Amory: Media Curmudgeon & Animal Rights Crusader. UPNE. p. 46. ISBN 1584656816. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  12. ^ Mahany, Barbara (November 8, 1987). "Amory lets cat out of the bag and into a book". Chicago Tribune. 
  13. ^ "Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch Home Page". Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  14. ^ Marshall, Julie Hoffman (May 15, 2006). Making Burros Fly: Cleveland Amory, Animal Rescue Pioneer. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books. ISBN 978-1-55566-346-9. Lay summary.  Foreword by Wayne Pacelle
  15. ^ U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Wand, Kelly. The Animal Rights Movement. Greenhaven Press: 2003.
  17. ^ Amory, Cleveland (1962). "Who Killed Society?". 

Further reading[edit]

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