Film noir feline stars: The cat in ‘Strange Love of Martha Ivers’

The butler tries to help Martha (Janis Wilson) keep Bundles safe.

More on the most famous kitties in film noir

The Cat in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” 1946

Name: Marvin Saperstein

Character Name: Bundles

Bio: As I mentioned in my “Martha Ivers” review, it is Bundles the kitten who, through no fault of his own, sparks the chain of evil events that unfold in this noir melodrama.

The malevolent Mrs. Ivers (Dame Judith Anderson), a bit of a fat cat herself, hates anything that her niece Martha (Janis Wilson) loves, in particular, the girl’s treasured feline. But it’s one thing to say you hate a cat, it’s another thing to give it a brutal beating with your cane. Some would argue that Martha’s badass retaliation against her aunt was exactly what the nasty old lady deserved. (You could also argue that Martha, as an adult, symbolizes the corruption and decadence of capitalism, but that’s another post.)

Australian-born Dame Judith Anderson was a Broadway and film actress. She had a particular gift for playing snide, snooty matrons.

Anyway, back to Bundles, known offscreen as Marvin Saperstein. After his performance in this film, he acquired a reputation as a bruiser and found that working as a bodyguard for an alley cat named Lucky Malone, who controlled the downtown LA feline nightclub circuit, paid far better than working as an actor. The Sap, as he was called, had more to offer than just brawn, however. With a keen eye for spotting singers and other talent, and sharp negotiation skills, it wasn’t long before he became an agent and protector for a number of A-list feline entertainers.

When Malone was discovered dead in his Beverly Hills home (his oft-meowed claim to having 19 lives apparently false), the Sap took over the business and acquired great power by not only managing careers, but also by overseeing the covert gambling that took place in the clubs.

Saperstein never married, though he had a string of relationships with noted cat celebs such as Lola Pawsingham, Clawdette Montgomery and Fluffy Taylor. He prided himself on his Brentwood mansion as well as his enormous collection of diamond-studded collars and imported catbeds. Though he was dogged by the police, no charges ever stuck, likely because of The Sap’s close friendship with Tiger Brown, pet cat of L.A’s driven and often drunk police chief, Bill Parker. Saperstein died in Palm Springs in 1976.

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