We Are Siamese - Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow
by Betty White
From the 1987 CFA Yearbook
If no one really took the Albino issue seriously in the late '60's, it became apparent as the next decade wore on that the traditional view of the Siamese cat being a variety of feline in four colors was under attack. Certainly love for the unique color pattern of the Siamese had already spawned a number of newer breeds. In the sense that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," Siamese breeders looked to this development with pride and observed with interest the acceptance of the Lynx and Tortie Colorpoint Shorthairs for championship recognition in 1970. Surely few expected the Siamese dominance of shorthair classes to cease. But then, how many cat fanciers expected one of their foundation breeds to be beset by a three-pronged attack that seems more deadly in retrospect than when we actually experienced it in the 70's?
The prevailing notion seemed to be that if a little Tee Cee was good, a lot of Tee Cee was better. Enter the era of the "head hunters" and with a vengeance, the first of the three phenomena to threaten the Siamese. A family of cats already heavily linebred was used by too many Siamese breeders as a basis to continue more of the same, and this in a breed in the Albino series. But Mother Nature is wonderful; she looks out for her own and those who opted to breed too dangerously were soon without anything to breed. The major damage that was done was to the appearance of the Siamese cat. Jeanne Singer credits Lillian Pedulla with the term "coffinhead", a term Jeanne noted had a double meaning: one denoting the look of the head and the other foretelling the probable fate of the cat. Yet there were those on both sides of the judging table that liked the "look". Otherwise, how do you explain its success? Kim Everett remembers many Siamese with poor color, "hooded" cats with squinty eyes and no substance to their bodies. Alas, the mushy bodies were another by-product of this quest for the show-stopping head. To me, these cats were coarse, striking in that they were grotesque, and invariably characterized by poor profiles and small ears. Some of us invented a new term to cover the ears "horse-heads", while others favored "mule ears".
While too many of us were blithely pursuing this fad, CFA was accepting new breeds for championship competition. Besides the new Colorpoint classes, the Bombay, Egyptian Mau, Exotic Shorthair, American Wirehair, Japanese Bobtail, Maine Coon, Scottish Fold, Turkish Angora, and Oriental Shorthair were added to a growing list of CFA breeds. While the "coffinhead" syndrome was on its way out by the mid-1970's, the Siamese image was tarnished at a time it was encountering pressure in the show ring from newer breeds. Some of these cats, its own derivatives, were the second assault on Siamese supremacy.
But I said 3-pronged attack. Siamese classes in 1972 were still large enough for a resolution to be presented at the Annual Meeting requesting divisional awards for the Siamese color. Perhaps the first indication of what was to be the last assault on the Siamese during the 1970's occurred during the Executive Board Meeting in Chicago, February, 1974. A proposal for a new breed was presented, a breed of all colors of the cats with a standard identical to the Siamese, the Oriental Shorthair. To cite Mr. Will Thompson from the minutes of that meeting:
"Going on, Mr. Thompson wanted to make it very clear that he simply was not in favor of multitudinous colors in the Siamese, what this proposal is basically all about in his opinion."
The Board took no action on the Oriental Shorthair proposal at that time, but did accept this new breed for registration only at the October 1974 Board meeting in Atlanta, encouraging the breeding of solid colors. It was accepted for championship status in October of 1976.
Reflecting growing agitation to enlarge Siamese color classes, the results of one item on the Breed Council questionnaire published in the minutes of the February 1976 Board Meeting were:
"Do you want Colorpoints shown as Siamese?" Yes, 21 - No, 72.
These "outward and visible" signs of discord reached thunderous proportions at the Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in 1976, a year of notable success for our breed in the show ring. The National Siamese Cat Club had removed its secretary, one of the major promoters of the Oriental Shorthair breed and a strong advocate of enlarged Siamese color classes, on charges of election violations. The Credentials Committee was asked to determine the valid delegate of National Siamese following a delegate challenge. As it was impossible to seat the delegate of NSCC because of a technicality, it became necessary for the entire court proceedings, County of Nassau, of the officers of National Siamese Cat Club and their ousted secretary to be presented to the delegates in Washington. The National Siamese Cat Club delegate was seated.
The Breed Council questionnaire that year contained the query, reported in the February, 1977 Board Minutes:
"Should the Colorpoint Shorthair breed as such be abolished and all present Colorpoint Shorthairs be considered, re-registered, and compete as other color varieties of Siamese?" Yes, 44 - No, 106
Certainly fine Siamese continued to be bred and shown during this troublesome time, but seeds for a decline in interest in the breed had been sown. New cat fanciers were selecting other breeds in the midst of our bizarre head-hunting; not to mention the novelty and lure of some of the newer breeds themselves. Where the rewards of the show ring are shared among many, we cat "fish" look for another, smaller pond. Add to this state of affairs the uncertainty of the future of a breed in the midst of real turmoil, and it is small wonder that Siamese numbers declined. There would be no Siamese in the CFA Top 20 in 1979 for the first time in the history of CFA awards. The worst was yet to come, with no Siamese placing 1984-1986.
Reflecting the exuberance of the early '70's, Siamese Fanciers in southern California began that era by inaugurating their annual all-Siamese show. This particular jewel on the Western horizon has grown in size and prestige over the years to the present day. While fanciers of other breeds are hot in pursuit of national points, Siamese breeders are handing over big bucks for airline tickets to carry them to California to a show devoid of national scoring where the competition for a breed win is something dreamed about. Certainly the beginning of this annual show must be regarded as one of the bright spots of the 1970's, a labor of love for one of the world's favorite cats that would become in a few short years a rallying point for a beleaguered breed. One of the founding members of Siamese Fanciers is John Dawe, a distinguished breeder of Siamese whose cats have made a significant contribution to our breed. While the Dahin Siamese are not found among the following account of all the winners, suffice it to observe that there are winners listed both in the '70's and the decade to follow who owe a good deal to John's breeding.
As we have seen, the decade which began in 1970 was loaded with obstacles for the Siamese cat. Yet the Siamese persevered and, indeed, it was a time when some of our loveliest cats were born. CFA's Best Cat in 1970 was the Karr's sealpoint male, Karnak Zapata. Best Shorthair Female was Sanuk's Lady Day of Tres Bien, a sealpoint bred by John and Mary Lou D'Ambrosio, sired by the magnificent GRC Sanuk's Old Acquaintance, and owned by Mrs. Thomas Sanders. John and Sandra Turner of California bred many lovely Siamese over their years in the Fancy, none lovelier than #5 Shorthair Male in 1970, GRC Jo-San's Theseus, a lilacpoint. Alray's Charisma Lyn of Lin How San (SP), bred by Aline Walrath and owned by Lynne Rabinowitz was #3 Shorthair Female, and a sealpoint Ruby Foo daughter, Thaibok Tallulah was #5 Shorthair Female.
Tuter's Black Bart, bred by Dick Savage and Art Santmier and sired by CH Dulce Domun's Kublah of DiNapoli, was CFA's #2 Cat in 1971, and one of Kim Everett's favorite Siamese. Camille Flankey's Sia-Mews Dixie Dream, Blue Cavalier's sister, that other Siamese mentioned by Kim Everett, Jeanie McPhee, and nearly everybody else who ever saw her, was #8 Cat in 1971 and #13 Cat in 1972. Jeanie McPhee still remembers the first time she ever saw Dixie Dream. She was judging in Atlanta, and had not really seen anything that excited her. The very last cat that she judged in the entire show was this gorgeous bluepoint female. She remembers thinking, "Thank you, Lord!"
The #3 Cat in 1971 was Che'Ree's Blu Charade, bred by Joseph and Sherrie Bender from Singa lines. Jeanne Singer has been breeding Siamese of distinction for more years than many of today's Siamese breeders have been drawing breath on this planet. It was because of Blue Charade that my husband and I added Singa to our own cat family, a son of Symphony. While Mrs. Singer does not show extensively, her name invariably comes up whenever one discusses Siamese breeders who have mattered to the breed. The list of Singa grands is long and distinguished, none more so than one of the fine sires of the 70's, GRC Singa Symphony. Symphony was sired by Kay Kohl's GRC Koh-Ling Symmetry out of GRC Singa Sylphide. He produced one of two Singa Distinguished Merit Siamese males, GRC Singa Blue Minstrel. The other boy is a Minstrel grandson, sired by GRC Thaibok Teriyaki, GRC Singa Mikado of Fan-C, owned by Barbara Baylor. "Weird", as Mikado is affectionately called, will be discussed later.
Two Siamese males came along in 1972 that would have a profound impact, one on his own breed and the other on a newer breed. Felitan Frodo of Petmark, CFA's #3 Cat, bred by the Levitans and owned by Peter and Vicki Markstein, produced a number of fine Siamese, but it was the Oriental Shorthairs that were so tremendously influenced by this bluepoint male. A fairly large-boned cat, he nonetheless produced some extremely fin-boned Siamese, particularly GRC Tres Bien Zeus of Stonewood, bred by the Sanders and owned by Susan Stoner. The dam of Zeus was none other than the beautiful Lady Day. Zeus himself produced an exceedingly dainty lilacpoint female bred by Harriet Atwell, GRC In Lieu Columbine.
GRC New Moon Eclipse of Rogers Hts., D.M., #5 CFA Cat in 1972, was bred by Georgia Headley, one of those newer breeders mentioned by Carlon Boren in 1962, and owned by Willa Rogers Hawke. He would put himself in the Siamese record books by siring 36 Siamese CFA Grand Champions, including two national Top 20 winners in 1974, and one each in 1975, 1976, and 1977. "Clipper" was a sealpoint male exceedingly prepotent for type, setting a benchmark for elegant refinement that still remains intact.
CFA began recognized color wins in 1972, and the best chocolate point was Marjorie Frye's Tiki's Tara. The best lilac point that year was a male in the Catana/Jen-Kins tradition, GRC Le Masque Sundance Kid of Helios, owned by Ronald Santelli. Mr. Santelli purchased Sundance from Carmen Lanphear at a cat show in Rochester, and he became the mainstay of the Helios Siamese.
Jeanie McPhee remembers Karnak Arriba (SP), CFA's #2 Cat in 1973, as a fine Siamese with great ears. Frodo was again in the Top 20, this time as #13 Cat. The best chocolate point Siamese was Norma and Bob Salzman's dainty girl, GRC Nor-Bob's Karima. The chocolate point Siamese has been the special love of the Salzmans for more than 20 years, and an earlier winner was GRC Nor-Bob's Sephora, best-of-color in 1970.
After winning best-of-color in 1973, GRC Santana's Podgorny was off and running in 1974. A truly spectacular lilacpoint, fondly remembered by Kim Everett and Willa Rogers Hawke, Robert and Roberta Rogers' combination of Jo-San/Catana/Jen-Kins breeding competed head-on with the first New Moon Eclipse progeny to hit the show circuit. Podgorny was something to see, and Siamese fanciers were saddened when he succumbed to leukemia. Sealpoint litter sisters Sin-Chiang's Kali of Mar-Ray, owned by Dave Mare, and Betty Crotzer's own Sin-Chiang's Riikola traveled widely, and these two girls earned a place in the top 20, #3 and #15 respectively, along with Podgorny (#4). GRC Geo-Jes Gloree of Joy Ley (LP), bred by Georgia and Stan Bass, sired by GRC Alemar Cullen of Geisha House, and owned by Joyce and Stanley Schwartz, was #7. The 14th Best Cat in CFA was a bluepoint GRC Sia-Mews Camellia of Shady Paws, owned by Mrs. Wendell S. Thompson. Five Siamese national winners in 1974, a banner year! Joanne and Rick Manchee's chocolatepoint, GRC Serendipity Sock It To me, garnered the color honors.
Another Clipper offspring won the breed award and #20 Best Cat in 1975, GRC Rogers Hts. Willa Bet, a sealpoint. Le Masque Sundance Kid of Helios sired CFA's best chocolate that year, Helios Sunderance. Our own Moonwind's litter sister won lilacpoint honors, GRC Mar-Vell Prim-Rose of Mar-Den, bred by Tom Taylor from Jen-Kins/Kalyan lines. Prim-Rose of MarDen was owned by Marilyn Den Hertog.
The bluepoint winner in 1975 was but the latest in a distinguished family of Siamese, GRC Tap-Toe Toya. Lydia Dzbanski's most famous cat was undoubtedly GRC Tap-Toe Sonero, a truly stunning sealpoint born in 1967 from lines representing a variation on the theme of Fan-T-Cee. The Tap-Toe Siamese were dramatic cats, with elegant extension of boning. While there were times when on thought, "Too much", as Tap-Toe head type later on pushed the limits of the Standard, there was never any doubt that these Siamese were valuable in refining bone. Reading "Tap-Toe" in the look of a Siamese became a mark of the experienced breeder in the 70's.
1976. As the song goes, "It was a very good year." Best Cat, GRC Thaibok Teriyaki. Third Best Cat, GRC Thaibok Tyrone. #14 Best Cat, GRC Sin-Chiang Blu Velvet of DeVegas, owned by Dan and Hanne Gauger. Two familiar names in chocolate and lilac, the Manchee's GRC Serendipity's Tan Terrific and GRC Helios Sunator of Diece, another Sundance offspring, owned by Bruce McDonald.
GRC Thaibok Teriyaki, D.M., about as ubiquitous on Siamese pedigrees as a male can get, was the son of a sealpoint import, CH Lymekilns Lochinvar of Thaibok. His dam was Pussy Pur Mew's Jasmine of Thaibok, a daughter of Ruby Foo and GRC Lai-Nee Scarlett, owned by J. Patton and Penny Klepinger. Scarlett was the daughter of Sonero and a beautiful sealpoint import, GRC Hi-Hoe Fiesta of Lai-Nee. (When Scarlett's breeder, Carl Michelis, was searching for a new cattery name a few years later, he appropriately chose "Fiesta" after his favorite cat.)
GRC Thaibok Tyrone, no less beautiful than "Teri", certainly had his fans, among them Barbara St. Georges. He was noted for his striking head and extraordinary eye color. The dust has yet to settle over which was better, but does it really matter? Tyrone's sire was Blue Minstrel and his dam was GRC Thaibok Trish.
Let's hear it for the lilacs! Two lilacpoint males were Best and Second Best Siamese in 1977, and #11 and #12 Best Cats in CFA in one of the liveliest competitions in recent years. Ophir's Leo, bred by Mary Lou Nolan and owned by Harry and Mary Lou Nolan was best; Diece Minator was 2nd best, bred and owned by Dianna and Bruce McDonald. Minator's sire was previous color winner, Sunator. A Teriyaki son, GRC Shara Solo De Chocolatl out of GRC Shara Rubiopal, bred and owned by Sharon Kapilian, was best chocolatepoint. Best sealpoint was a female, GRC Tan-Tara's Xaviera, bred and owned by Larry Adkison. Another Clipper kid, GRC In Lieu Esme, was best bluepoint. Esme was bred and owned by Harriet Atwell.
Who says chocolates can't compete? A chocolatepoint female, Thaibok Tantra, was CFA's #9 Cat and best of breed in 1978. The name of the best sealpoint has a familiar ring, Jo-San's Pherousa. Trudi Hoffman bred the best lilac, owned by Nici Callahan, GRC Vindabona Lance of Sea Shell. CFA National Best Bluepoint was Venusberg's Fafner of Waltur, bred by Mr. And Mrs. Ammons, owned by Vernon and Nancy Krakow, and sired by New Moon Eclipse.
Best Siamese in 1979 was S. Beuerlein's GRC Susan's Sealvia Muldoon. Another sealpoint was 2nd Best, Deanne Johnson's San-Toi's Tiffany Tu. The McDonalds bred another lilac winner, Diece Ben Ben Mousey of Jorene, owned by Irene Horowitz. Bob and Norma Salzman produced the best chocolatepoint yet again, GRC Nor-Bob's Ann. The best bluepoint, named for her grandmother, was GRC Angkor Rose Dixie Daydream. She was bred by Betty White and owned by Betty White and Betty Crotzer.
These then, were the winners of the decade; but that is only part of the Siamese story. There are many fine cats bred by distinguished breeders who, for one reason or other, do not win any national awards. As we approach the present decade of the continuing history of the Siamese cat, it is appropriate to add other active cattery names of the 1970's to that of Dahin. Either breeders of three or more grand champions or significant contributors to winning pedigrees were A1-E, Alemar, An Tai Lis, Casto, Cath-Son, Fabuline, Gaidon, Gema, Hasul, Hutzler, Kit-Land, LaLinda, Le-Von, Lin-How-San, Moqui, Nu-B, Petmark, Quin-Jo, Quire's Gal-X-C, Sand 'N Sea, Saroj, Shera Len, Star of Siam, Tuyo, Ups 'n Downs, and Valentyne.