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As It Was: Contest Winner’s Voice Appeals to TV Judges

Ten-year-old Pete Scott won $25,000 and a role in a TV commercial in August 1981.  Born and abandoned in New Jersey, Pete had been adopted when he was young and moved with his family to Central Point, Ore.

The judges were attracted by Pete’s recorded voice.  A spokesman for the sponsoring company said Pete’s distinct and unique voice was the strongest, truest, and most appealing.  Louis Nye, one of the judges, said the voice sounded “like someone had just come up from the jungle.”

Pete’s family looked forward to their trip to Southern California to record the commercial.

If you haven’t guessed by now, Pete was a 22-pound, black, domestic, short-hair cat.  His “meow” and picture would appear on Ralston Purina’s Meow Mix television commercials in 1982, the first black cat
ever selected for this role.

As soon as the award winner was announced, fan mail started coming to Pete’s family, including a marriage proposal from a Medford cat named Missy.

What does a cat do with $25,000 in prize money?  The Scott family had not entirely decided, but $1,000 went to the Southern Oregon Humane Society in Pete’s name.

Sources: Scarbrough, Roy. "Pete meows way to national championship." Medford Mail Tribune, Aug. 1981.  "Pete receives fan mail and none of it's catty." Medford Mail Tribune, Aug. 1981.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.