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Anjelica Huston Thinks Pets Should Stay Free...So Now They Do

The Standard, the ASPCA and Anjelica follow their animal instincts

Are you one of those people? You know, the kind who won’t admit to it but who much prefers the company of dogs to the tedium of human beings. Well, The Standard feels you, and understands that traveling with pets can be a real pain–not to mention expensive. While we have always been what the lodging industry refers to as "pet friendly," we thought we should take it up a notch and go for "pet loving." From now on, pets stay free at The Standard Hotels. 

We also decided to donate all of 2015's pet fees to the ASPCA, the legendary animal welfare organization that has sheltered and protected countless animals over its nearly 150-year history. 

To help us spread the word, animal lover and advocate, third-generation Academy Award winner, daughter of director John Huston, muse of Richard Avedon, Jack Nicholson’s “one-that-got-away,” actress famous for her roles as Morticia Adams, Etheline Tenenbaum, the Grand High Witch, and guest star on season two of Transparent, the one, the only, Anjelica Huston sat for photographer Dewey Nicks at The Standard, Hollywood. Did Captain Hook, Margarita, and Darby from the Downey Animal Care Center know they were working with a true Hollywood legend? We think not, because they never would have stolen the spotlight the way they did. Ms. Huston didn’t mind in the slightest.

Standard Culture: What are your dogs’ names and what do you love about them?
Anjelica Huston: I’ve had dogs ever since I was six years old. My first dog was a small, black miniature poodle named Mindy and I’ve had an incarnation of Mindy throughout my life. Presently, it’s kind of divided between my two current dogs. One is called Mecha, short for Mercedes, and it also means “cowlick” in Spanish, and Pootie Pie, who’s formal name is Luna, but I call her Pootie. They all have the same characteristics, these little dogs throughout my life. They’re lapdogs, but they also have independence and they all have the same kind of spirit. Whenever I can, I have a bigger dog. I had a really great dog called Billy that I found on a railroad track up in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He died a couple of years ago. I loved Billy so much. I’d like to have many, many more dogs than I do, but I have at least two at any given time.

Why multiple pets?
Having one pet is putting all your love, like eggs, in one basket. So I recommend having multiple pets. The most rewarding thing about being around animals is their devotion, protection, watchfulness, their sharing, their tacit approval–all in all, their company. They don't ask questions. They just understand the answers.

We've read that your California ranch is home to a range of animals.  
For thirty years I've had a farm in the Central valley where I've raised cats, dogs, ducks, chickens, goats, pigs, peacocks, ostrich, sheep, two cows, mustangs, Arabs, miniature ponies, Quarter Horses, and children. 

Diana Vreeland once said in an interview, “I mean, the world without a leopard, who’d want to be there?” 
I couldn’t agree more!

What do you think she might have to say about animal rights if she were around today? Or maybe, what did she say about it back during your Vogue days? 
Well, back then, it was all about fur. No one really thought that much about cruelty to animals. When I was growing up in Ireland and England, there was the R.S.P.C.A. [Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals]. It was kind of a remote organization run by a few angry old ladies, but they did great work. When I was growing up, cruelty to animals was widespread and now there’s a much more conscious effort on the part of people to look after animals.

When we encounter something like, you know, this idiot who killed Cecil the Lion, it’s a huge outrage and that’s a new thing. When I was growing up, a lot of people went to Africa to shoot game, and it wasn’t considered in the least bit alarming to take down not only lions and tigers, but water buffalos, elephants—you know, anything you felt like killing. 

"They don't ask questions. They just understand the answers."

Anjelica Huston shot by Dewey Nicks at The Standard, Hollywood, featured on the cover of our latest print issue now at a Standard near you. 
Do you believe there’s any merit to the argument that hunters, especially the big game hunters in Africa, are conservationists?
No, not anymore. I think conservationists conserve beautifully without the aid of big-game hunters, but it’s a business. You know, they made it into a business and just like everything else when it’s dominated by men with guns… In this case, it’s a war on animals. And I just consider that really beneath where we should be in terms of character. 

When did you become motivated to speak out about cruelty towards animals? Was that something you witnessed growing up around film sets?
Not so much growing up. Actually, my father had very much a reverse experience when he was making The Bible in Rome. The animal trainers were having a good deal of trouble getting the animals into the ark two by two. My father was playing Noah and also directing. He actually got them to go into the ark, two by two. And this was before CGI. He had a really extraordinary affinity for animals. He made them fall in love with him. And I think in a great many cases, he preferred them to people—although he was good with people, too.

But, you know, in answer to your question, I saw cruelty to horses on a film—not one that I was working on, but one that a friend of mine was working on—and it outraged me. And any time that you put animals in jeopardy for the sake of a shot... I got incensed at an Italian animal trainer some eight or nine years back on a film in Italy. I didn’t feel they wanted to be abusive. They just didn’t know any better. So it’s education. People need to be taught sometimes. If they don’t grow up with animals, they need to be taught that cruelty is not okay.

Do you have any advice for current or future pet owners to make sure their pups don’t end up in a shelter?
Well, for sure people should be living in a place that is suitable for a dog and where you know you will be for a bit. You never know if the next place will allow pets. If you don’t know what your living conditions are going to be, or you’re between places, or you can’t provide a proper upbringing, this can be a problem. A dog is a little being. It’s not just a toy. It’s got a life. Dogs need discipline and routine. That translates as “safe” for them. 

Shifting gears, we’re such big fans of TransparentHow did this role find its way to you?
Well, my agent knew that I was keen on the show and I think a particular part came up and so he spoke to them about it. 

Were you friends with Jeffrey Tambor?
I am now. 

If you could describe your character in three words, what you pick?
Friendly, or—wait, yes—friendly, forthcoming, and with a brave interior.

That sounds like a lot of dogs we know. We are happy to report that Captain Hook was adopted on the day of the shoot by one of the stylist’s assistants. For more information about the ASPCA, or to learn about a shelter near you, visit


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