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Photos: Over 150 Black Cats Auditioned To Be In A Horror Film In 1961

(Photo by Ralph Crane, The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
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As Nine Lives languishes in the box office, let us all take a moment to remember the legendary black cat audition of 1961.As captured by photographer Ralph Crane, 152 cats lined up at what is now Raleigh Studios, hoping to be cast as the eponymous character in a film adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's The Black Cat. According to TIME, many hopefuls were dismissed due to splotches of white fur, but seven all-black felines were selected as understudies for a veteran cat actor who had already been cast in the main role. These seven cats were selected for having the most vicious visages.

In The Black Cat, published in 1943 in The Saturday Evening Post, the narrator drunkenly attacks and eventually kills his pet cat, who subsequently haunts him in the form of a second cat. The film adaptation appeared alongside two others horror stories in the 1962 film Tales of Terror, directed by Roger Corman. In that particular version of the story, Peter Lorre played the narrator, and Vincent Price played a wine taster who gets Lorre's character drunk and then seduces his wife.

Black cats got a bad rap for being unlucky in the Middle Ages, as rumors began to spread that witches would use cats, often black ones, as familiars. Some believed that a witch could turn herself into a black cat, and according to American Folklore, some of those people ended up coming to America, bringing the superstition with them. Hence, black cats have often been featured in horror stories and Halloween decor. These cats all seem pretty cute, though.

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Many black cats. (Photo by Ralph Crane, The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)


(Photo by Ralph Crane, The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)