The Story of the Astor Cat

Even though we know y’all love the Astor for a variety of reasons including everything from our awesomely unique programming to the legendary Astor Choc-Ice, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t aware that what (or rather who) everyone loves most about us, is our resident cat: Marzipan.

Marzipan recently appeared alongside Angus Sampson for an article in The Herald Sun. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Tauber.

Now the story tends to vary a little depending on who’s telling – but that’s all part of the romance; her history changes, adapts and matures just as she does – so here’s one version of The Story of the Astor Cat.

Once upon a time, in Melbourne’s oldest arts precinct, there was a stunning art deco/jazz moderne single screen repertory cinema that cinetastically championed cult film. And in this building, on one cold and stormy night, deep in the recesses of the grand old dame, a cat roamed; approving and disapproving of cine-obsessed patrons as she saw fit. But alas, later that evening, once the audience had entered the auditorium, she found her journey up the unbelievably steep and far from safe stairway to the bio box resulted in an induced labour. And on this night, at the end of those treacherous stairs, just as the film itself prophesied, the 1980s temporary Astor Cat discovered There’s a Light…

A light, way up in the bio box where her two sweet femme felines were born. To forever honour their epic entry into the world the twin kittens were named by the kind, masterful projectionist after their onscreen counterparts: Columbia and Magenta. Now Columbia found herself a good home to settle into and left the grand old theatre, whilst Magenta stayed, and took on the theatre’s most significant role as official Astor Cat.

Some time later, and as the version I heard of the story goes, Magenta departed the increasingly multiplexed world in which we live and left That Frankenstein Place open for residency. A residency that was soon taken up by a cute but indignant little kitten who somehow found herself underneath a truck on Chapel Street right outside the front doors of the iconic pile of bricks playing host to Melbourne’s most awesome and independent film house. Some say it was fate, others coincidence, but either way, Marzipan had defiantly and stylishly waltzed in to her new, and unbelievably opulent, home.

Marzipan shows Angus her favourite sitting place. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Tauber.

Marzipan shows Angus her favourite sitting place. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Tauber.

Some nineteen years later, after startling a variety of viewers each and every time she runs across the banister during Poltergeist or sashays up and down the auditorium steps during 2001‘s Dawn of Man, after achieving a level of local fame long-standing members of staff could only dream of, not to mention playing to the sympathies of passers-by who then feed and provide an excess of blankets for her, Marzipan is still able to scale the theatre walls and somehow mysteriously hears the FOH Supervisor call her for dinner despite her being apparently deaf.

And what of it? Marzipan is the kind of kitty who adores everyone’s endless and unbridled attention. What cat wouldn’t? She has a whole team of ushers to clean out her kitty litter, not to mention more than five hundred friends on facebook. She’s the only one at the theatre who’s received postcards from patrons when they’re on vacation and she’s usually the only one the journos want to feature in their photographs of the theatre too. Receiving the biggest cheer of all at our 75th Anniversary Celebrations in April of this year, Marzipan is Melbourne’s little darling and yet she remains as down-to-earth as ever. Well, maybe every now and again she has a moment of diva about her…

Marzipan walks off set due to "creative differences" with Angus Sampson. Photograph courtesy of Andrew Tauber.

Editor’s Note: Some or all of the information in this blog post may be fictional. Marzipan has not formally authorised the publication of this article and all views expressed are the author’s own. Written by Tara Judah for The Astor Theatre.

NB: Any comment posts on this blog that are intended for Marzipan as fan mail will be recounted to her by a member of our FOH staff.

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About The Astor Theatre Blog

The home of restored classics, Double Features, cult favourites, Melbourne's most beloved film icon is one of the last independent film houses left in Victoria, and the last of the city's grand old art deco film palaces still in operation since 1936. We are one of two venues in Australia able to show 70mm print film and are committed to the preservation of the cinema going experience, providing a unique experience, value for money and the best darn choc-ices ever! Keep an eye out for our resident cat Marzipan! Visit us at

13 thoughts on “The Story of the Astor Cat

    • She likes the classics. And anything with the word “cat” in the title; “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, “Cat Women of the Moon” – course, much as she likes Maggie the Cat, I heard she thinks she could do a better job. Wonder what Tennessee Williams would think of Marzipan the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof….

  1. Dear Marzipan,

    I’d just like to give you some belated thanks for walking across the back of my friend’s seat during an Alien/Aliens double feature. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so entertained.



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  5. Good afternoon Marzipan,
    I trust this finds you well.
    Just a note to thank you for seeing us in January last. Apologies for not getting back to you earlier. Things have been hectic.

    As promised, here is the feature we spoke of, although unfortunately including quite a bit on the theatre…our apologies.

    Please thank your staff when you get a moment, for a job well done.
    Yours etc.
    ic, Sue & Matt

  6. I remember taking my daughter to a showing of Titanic. Marzipan settled in my lap. She had obviously been playing with her friends because her side was shaved and she had a drainage tube in. A burst abscess or a tummy tuck perhaps!! Farewell Marzipan. You had heaven on earth at the Astor.

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