From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1998:
Cleveland Amory, 81, founder of
the Fund for Animals, died in his sleep from a
cerebral aneurism on October 14.
Born in 1919 in Nahants,
Massachusetts, and identified by the official
Fund obituary as “scion of a long line of
Boston merchants,” Amory was often
assigned a much less blueblooded and possibly
canine pedigree by the irritated targets of his
wit––especially hunters, whom he argued
should be hunted themselves, to prevent
hunter overpopulation and to undo the effects
“We don’t want to wipe them out,”
Amory stipulated. “We only want to cull
them.” His most famous slogan is memorialized
by the Fund’s popular “Support your right
to arm bears” bumper sticker.
As a Harvard senior, Amory in 1939
edited the Harvard Crimson, was briefly a
reporter for the Nashua Telegraph and the
Arizona Daily Star, and then at age 22 became
youngest member of The Saturday Evening
Post editorial staff. Life, the Post’s chief rival
for circulation and advertising, was then turning
sharply away from previous editorial opposition
to vivisection. Amory produced numerous
features calculated to appeal to animal
lovers, helping win over enough former L i f e
readers that Life responded in kind. The battle
for animal-loving readers, mostly female,
continued until a male audience more coveted
by big-bucks advertisers such as auto makers
came marching home from World War II.
Amory left the Post early in the war
to join his elder brother Robert Amory Jr. in
the U.S. Army Intelligence Corps, but continued
to have an influence: witnessing a socalled
“bunny bop” in 1945, sponsored by the
American Legion at Harmony, North
Carolina, he ensured that the event became
subject of a P o s t photo feature, and of a
national furor, as the P o s t for a few weeks
reportedly received more letters about the rabbit
killing than about the killing in Europe and
the Pacific theatre.
Also circa 1945, Amory witnessed
and was outraged by his first bullfight.
Robert Amory Jr., an attorney
before World War II, ended the war as a
colonel, returned to law for six years in
Washington D.C., then from 1952 until 1962
fought foreign subversives as deputy director
of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Cleveland Amory meanwhile
became one of the most subversive elements
ever to mock the status quo from a social position
securely inside the establishment. He
struck first through radio commentary, while
writing a trilogy of popular sociological studies
intertwined with satire. His first book, The
Proper Bostonians (1947) is now in a 29th
printing. The Last Resorts followed in 1952,
and then Who Killed Society? in 1960.
Amory also wrote two novels,
Home Town and The Trouble With Nowadays.
From 1954 until 1963, Amory served as social
commentator for the NBC Today show. That
ended abruptly after he aired an expose titled
“Science is needlessly cruel to animals.”
Chief critic for TV Guide from 1963
to 1976, Amory later wrote a column called
Animail for The New York Post, wrote a column
for Saturday Review, and had a long
association with Parade.
Late in life, Amory produced three
consecutive best-sellers about a white cat
named Polar Bear, whom he adopted as a
stray off the street in New York City on
Christmas Eve 1977: The Cat Who Came For
C h r i s t m a s (1987), The Cat And The
Curmudgeon (1990), and The Best Cat Ever,
written after Polar Bear’s death in 1992. Polar
Bear was buried at the Black Beauty Ranch
sanctuary in northeastern Texas; Amory was
interred beside him. Amory’s final book,
Ranch of Dreams, about Black Beauty,
appeared in late 1997.
Popular writing earned Amory independent
wealth and a host of influential contacts.
But he wanted to do more for animals.
“I started out writing about Lady Astor and her
horse,” he often said, “and became more
interested in the horse.”
In 1953 Amory put his contacts to
work by cofounding the National Humane
Society, soon renamed the Humane Society of
the United States. It was meant to become an
aggressive challenger to the American SPCA
and the American Humane Association, which
then did not oppose either sport hunting or the
use of pound animals for biomedical experiments.
Town & County writer Dan
Rottenberg in 1981 credited Amory with
enlisting into the animal protection cause during
his HSUS years the actor Henry Fonda,
singer Andy Williams, and the late Grace
Kelly, Princess of Monaco––along with Ark
Trust founder Gretchen Wyler, then more
prominent as an actress.
HSUS, however, also proved too
conservative for Amory––though he remained
on the HSUS board of directors until 1974,
when he resigned, he told ANIMAL PEOPLE
in 1994, because he opposed the direction
it took under John Hoyt, president from
1970 until 1996, toward paying high salaries,
doing lots of fundraising, and adopting mainstream
positions on the issues.
When another HSUS cofounder, the
late Helen Jones, left in early 1959 to found
the National Catholic Society for Animal
Welfare, Amory served as honorary vice president.
Jones’ organization later became the
International Society for Animal Rights. But it
focused on research. Amory wanted to go
after hunting. In 1967, therefore, Amory
formed the Fund for Animals, winning early
endorsements from the actresses Mary Tyler
Moore and Angie Dickinson. Typically,
Amory branched out almost immediately into
other animal protection projects.
The action that established The Fund
on the national horizon was the 1979 helicopter-assisted
rescue of 557 burros targeted
for slaughter at the Grand Canyon by the
National Park Service, as non-native species
who allegedly jeopardized some rare plants.
The job cost $500,000––and left Amory with
hundreds of animals in urgent need of homes.
He solved the problem by purchasing the
Black Beauty Ranch, the first and by far the
largest of four Fund refuges. Named in honor
of the Anna Sewell novel Black Beauty, the
ranch has expanded to accommodate further
rescues. The biggest was the 1985 removal of
7,500 feral goats and pigs from San Clemente
Island, off the coast of California, who were
to have been killed by military sharpshooters.
Amory won a reprieve for the animals with a
call to then-Secretary of Defense Casper
Weinberger, a former Harvard classmate.
Other rescues included the acquisitions
of Nim Chimpsky, a chimp who had
been used in language experiments, and of
two elephants from severely substandard zoos.
Amory also took a leading role in
marine mammal protection during the early
Fund years, mobilizing celebrities against the
Canadian seal hunt and helping Paul Watson
form the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
by granting him the funds to buy his first ship,
with which he rammed the pirate whaler Sierra
off the Azores in June 1979. In gratitude,
Watson named the ship he used during his
1985 campaign against dragnetting off Atlantic
Canada The Cleveland Amory.
A crew member aboard the June
1979 Sea Shepherd mission, who disembarked
just before the actual ramming, was Alex
Pacheco, then age 19. Amory remembered
him as a volunteer “who practically grew up in
our Cincinnati office.”
Amory encouraged Pacheco and
Ingrid Newkirk when in 1981 they founded
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Amory and other Fund figures joined Pacheco
and Newkirk in taking over the New England
Anti-Vivisection Society through a series of
contested board elections and lawsuits in
1986-1988. Finally deposing former NEAVS
president Robert Ford, a probate judge who
was eventually sanctioned for misconduct in
managing NEAVS assets, the Fund/PETA
coalition ran NEAVS, with Amory as president,
until 1996, when the alliance split over
the question of who would succeed Amory. A
faction led by Pacheco temporarily seized control,
but was ousted when the Fund faction
won in court. NEAVS is now headed by longtime
Massachusetts activist Theo Capaldo.
From the first, Amory’s management
style emphasized enterprise and accountability.
Fund financial disclosure statements
have always been distinctively timely and
thorough, neatly handwritten by Amory’s
longtime assistant Marian Probst. Neither
Amory nor Probst ever took a salary from the
Fund; Amory paid Probst himself. Personnel
at as many as 29 field offices enjoyed rare
autonomy, but have also worked for the lowest
pay scale and least benefits offered by any
major national animal protection organization.
The economic restraint has prompted
many former Fund staff to move into management
roles at other organizations––but the
freedom to develop individual campaigns has
caused other Fund employees to decline much
more lucrative opportunities.
Though Amory wasn’t quick to write
checks, he was generous toward smaller organizations
when convinced of the value of their
work. He significantly assisted Wild Burro
Rescue many times, after it began removing
burros from Death Valley National Monument
to keep the National Park Service from shooting
them, and in 1994 surprised Concern for
Helping Animals in Israel with $10,000 toward
the cost of a humane education center.
Amory had transient but pivotal
roles in the careers of ANIMAL PEOPLE
publisher Kim Bartlett and editor Merritt
Clifton. Bartlett in 1971 quit wearing a gift fur
coat and took up anti-trapping activism after
receiving a Fund mailer. She resolved to dedicate
her life to animal protection after Amory
signed a copy of Man Kind? for her in 1974.
Bartlett in 1986 became editor of
The Animals’ Agenda magazine. Auditioning
on short notice as a lead feature writer, without
ever having met Bartlett, and up against a
Monday morning deadline, Clifton reached
Amory––to whom he was a total
stranger––late on a Friday afternoon. Few
other sources made themselves available, and
fewer still were forthcoming with potentially
sensitive information, but Amory and Marian
Probst rushed everything they thought Clifton
might need, via courier, to the remote office
he then had in rural Quebec.
“Hey, I know what it’s like to be a
freelance on a deadline,” Amory growled,
brushed aside thanks, and without any
prompting to do so, changed the subject to
bawdy escapades he claimed to have enjoyed
with prominent actresses.
Known for self-contradiction,
Amory endorsed feminism to the extent of hiring
women to fill most key positions within
The Fund, but cultivated an image as a rake;
endorsed vegetarianism, but never quite
achieved it himself; was a lifetime member of
the New York Athletic Club without ever having
been an athlete; and was Episcopalian,
but practiced religious philanthropy chiefly
toward Jewish charities working in Israel.
Probst told ANIMAL PEOPLE o n
October 16 that although the Fund board of
directors has not yet selected a successor to
Amory as Fund president, the organizational
strategic blueprint is firm through early 1999.
The board does have a short list of potential
successors, she added. The list is to be
reviewed at a December board meeting. A
decision will probably then be made during the
next 90 days. Probst will serve as acting president
until a permanent successor is announced.