Sadly, we have lost one of the most expressive felines of the 20th century. The Great Manfred has passed on at age 15. He finally succumbed to complications brought on by diabetes and old age.

Those who knew Manfred found him to be an irresistible ball of furry compassion and physical fun. He was unusually personable, sometimes appearing to be more interested in human contact than his next meal. If cats were GQ models, he'd have been cover material sporting an attractive black and white spotted body and a long black tail. Manfred's face still proves to have been his most distinctive feature. Although there are a great many cow-colored cats that have a Peter Criss (KISS drummer) kind of facial mask, almost none of them seem to have the near-perfect eye symmetry and the black beatnick goatee that Manfred had. With his very humane personality and unique look, he became a very beloved animal. When the news spread that Manny was ill, I was amazed at just how many friends and relatives contacted m e to express genuine concern for him.

Manfred was born in the summer of 1984. He was one of only two black and white kittens in a litter of 5. My mother, Kate, named him straight away. "He looks like a Manfred," she said. That name couldn't have been more apt as he grew up and changed from kitten to cat. Throughout my teens, I became heavily involved in music and sound recording. Manfred would so often be found in my room-turned-studio that it seemed like he really wanted to be involved in my work somehow. Friends and studio clients soon began referring to him as "The Producer," so what else could I do but find a way to officially include Manfred in my little audio production empire. With a black marker and a sheet of white paper, I managed to get him to sit still long enough for me to create a fairly accurate likeness. Then I plopped his paw onto a stamp pad and made an imprint right beneath my drawing. The design was topped off with Manfred's autograph (which was signed by me, of course). I named my little 8-track home recording facility Manfred's Studio after him, and from 1988 to 1990, all of my works were released on the Manfred record label. The cat logo was printed on thousands of cassette tape labels and on every single one, I would personally color in his tiny nos e with a pink marker. (I think Manfred was thrilled, though he never mentioned it!).

In 1991, I started a new studio business and label in New York State called What's Real Unlimited [link to WRU part of site]. For this new venture, I felt I needed to come up with a slightly more universal logo and image, but I still wanted to include my cool cat. I envisioned a silvery, moonlike planet with a paw-shaped crater pressed into it. Illustrator, Richard Harrington helped me to realize the idea with pencil and textured paper using Manfred's original paw print as a reference. With old-fashioned films, we were able to superimpose the new cat planet onto a black, brush-stroked background while also adding a few stars and other symbols for depth. The last step was to hire a special computer graphics service to wrap the three words What's Real Unlimited around the planet and the logo was complete. It has since been redrawn by Ron Brancato [link to], and an animated version of the logo was also put together by Animatus Studio [link to Animatus] using a little soundtrack piece that I'd originally recorded for them years ago. You can (and really ought to) view the clip here. [link to Flash clip] It's absolutely wonderful!

I will continue to proudly feature Manfred's memory in everything I do and I would like to say to all who actually knew my furry little friend, thank you for being a part of his life. And to everybody else, I thank you for helping to turn a very special animal into an unforgettable icon. The Great Manfred will be sorely missed...

- M.D.G.

December, 1999

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