Celebrity Spotlight - Jane Seymour
Starting out as a professional ballerina, Jane Seymour switched to acting after an injury ended her dancing career. Since then, she has starred in numerous television shows, movies, and plays, including the miniseries War and Remembrance, the feature film Wedding Crashers, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth. She even played a Bond girl in Live and Let Die. As the strong-willed Dr. Michaela Quinn in the 1990s television series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Jane won two Emmys and a Golden Globe and gained a large following of loyal fans. Somehow, while acting almost nonstop, Jane has also competed on Dancing with the Stars, written nine books, and become an accomplished watercolor and oil painter. Most recently, she’s collaborated with Kay Jewelers on a collection of jewelry called “Open Hearts,” based on one of her signature paintings. Despite her hectic schedule, she even found time to talk with us.
Jane grew up with poodles. Her family’s first poodle, Suki, was a chocolate miniature poodle. When Suki died, they got two toy poodles, a cream-colored one and a black one. “Those were my mom’s. They were lap dogs in the truest sense because they literally sat on her lap,” Jane remembers. “They were with her all the time.”
When Jane lived in England, she had two English golden retrievers, Krispen and Bungey. Bungey was named after a famous dog who once lived at her thousand-year-old English country house. The original Bungey delivered messages from the house to the court of Queen Elizabeth I. “Bungey never disclosed the contents of the messages, unlike other members of the court,” Jane says. “So we named our first dog Bungey in honor of that dog.”
Jane sometimes took the dogs on location when she was working on Dr. Quinn. “Everybody brought their dogs and left them in the production office,” she says. “There were more dogs than people. You couldn’t get into the office because of the dogs.”
When Krispen and Bungey died, Jane and her husband decided not to bring another dog into their current house in California. “I love dogs, but we realized that our house just has too many people coming in and out every day,” she says.
They didn’t want to live without pets, so they decided to adopt feral cats. “We bring the cutest little kittens ever to our veterinarian, and we get them their vaccinations and preventive medicine,” Jane says. “We treat them like domestic cats. We don’t declaw them, but we try to keep them away from the upholstery— not always with much success.”
Jane adopted two kittens in October 2006 when she was working on a TV show called Justice. “We were filming in L.A., and an actor from the show arrived on the set with the two most adorable little white kittens with gray markings. He had found them on Hollywood Boulevard, but couldn’t keep them because he lived in an apartment and wasn’t allowed to have pets,” she says. “I have twin boys, and ‘twin’ kittens sounded very appealing to me.”
Jane and her family raised the kittens, Stashy and Chitters, in their house. “We cuddled them and fed them, and they became domesticated,” she says. “And then when they’d had all their vaccinations, we let them outside and they learned how to be indoor–outdoor cats.”
Stashy definitely seems to prefer being inside and ventures outside only on rare occasions. “We’ve been remodeling the house, and everywhere we go, there’s Stashy,” she says. “He comes out of holes we didn’t even know existed. He either finds some way to sleep inside the house without us knowing, or he sleeps just outside a window. There’s a little alcove that he’s found that he happily sleeps in.”
“I easily learned to love cats and to really respect and enjoy their sense of independence. I’ve also learned that it is possible to have a relationship with a feral cat. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a cat; you can rescue one.”
He and Chitters used to sit and watch Jane and the rest of the family through the kitchen window. “They like windows,” she says. “I have tons of photographs of the two of them when they were brand new, and they’d just sit there and stare at us. They were adorable.”
Of the two cats, Stashy has always been friendlier toward people. Named because of the black splash of fur above his mouth that looks like a moustache, Stashy enjoys human attention. “Nobody can believe that a feral cat can be as affectionate as Stashy is. He will come up to you and just want to touch you,” Jane says.
Jane and her husband, James Keach, have written a series of five children’s books called This One ’n That One, about twin Malibu kittens who live in Catafornia. “We parodied our family and turned the twins into kittens, because the beautiful thing about cats is that it’s not about race or breed—well, for some people it is,” she laughs. “Cats come in all colors and sizes and are loved regardless. We felt that that was our aspiration for human beings, too—that they’d be accepted and loved for who they are, rather than what color they are, or what color their fur is.”
They called the kittens “This One” and “That One” because that’s how Jane and James would refer to their twins. “When I was pregnant, one of the twins would kick more than the other,” Jane explains. “And we’d say things like ‘This one’s bigger than that one’ or ‘That one looks more like your husband than this one.’” The final book in the series is about having a new kitten— a girl—called “The Other One.”
Jane has passed along her love of animals to her children. Her daughter, Katie, wanted to be a veterinarian when she was young. She’s now 26 and has chosen acting as a profession, but Jane says, “She would have a million dogs if she could; however, she realizes she can’t keep a dog where she is now. So she has a rabbit.”
Her sons, the twins, have two geckos. They adopted one to help out another boy, who couldn’t take care of it. Then they adopted a second gecko to keep the first one company.
The family also has koi. “They are friendly and will feed right out of my hand,” Jane says. “We’ve had them since they were babies.”
For Jane, choosing to have cats at her current house was a no-brainer. She loves dogs but recognizes that they wouldn’t fit into her lifestyle. “I just don’t have cuddly dog time,” she says. “So, for me, a nice, independent, self-sufficient cat is just fine.
Jane spends an enormous amount of time trying to alert people to the plight of less-fortunate human beings. One of her main concerns is the world’s water issues. She explains that people don’t tend to think about water running out. “Water is a major problem here in the Southwest and all over the world,” she says. While working with the American Red Cross to vaccinate children against measles, Jane visited Africa, where she saw firsthand the effects of water scarcity. “In Nairobi, 70% of the population have no water and no sanitation,” she says.
Jane is also actively involved in several organizations, including City Hearts, which provides after-school arts programs to disadvantaged children in high-crime areas, and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, which is dedicated to curing spinal injury by funding research and to improving the quality of life of people living with paralysis.