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Henri, Le Chat Noir is a Tuxedo cat that is well-known on the Internet for starring in a series of YouTube videos in which the narrator discusses his philosophical thoughts in French.
Henri is the online nickname of Henry, an eight-year-old rescued shelter cat in Seattle, Washington. His human “uncle” filmmaker William Braden created the first short (shown below) for a class project at the Seattle Film Institute. It was shot, edited and narrated in eleven days. Braden chose to use a film noir style with French narration to express Henri’s contempt for humans as well as other cats, especially a nameless white cat who appears in the videos. The name Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat) is taken from the 19th century Parisian cabaret with the same name, which is best known for its iconic poster of a black cat against a red and yellow background by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen. After the project was complete, Braden uploaded the film to YouTube on May 24th, 2007 and it has gained more than 1.6 million likes as of October 2012.
The video went relatively unnoticed for several years until Henri was quoted on a personal Tumblr in August 2011. On April 6th, 2012, Braden uploaded a second video titled “Paw de Deux” (shown below, left) which gained more than 6 million views in six months. The following day, Henri’s second video was featured on Jezebel. Throughout April, Henri’s videos were shared on College Humor, Tastefully Offensive, the Democratic Underground, Buzzfeed, Forbes, The Daily Dot, The FW and Metafilter. After seeing his videos take off, Braden set up a homepage, a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account for Henri.
On June 20th, 2012, Henri’s third video went live (shown above, right), documenting a trip to the veterinarian. The video was shared on Blame it on the Voices and the Huffington Post, among other news and humor sites. Nine days later, a love letter to Henri from another black and white cat named Anais Mittens (shown below) was uploaded by YouTuber Lizzie Reid. Her video was featured on Buzzfeed, The Daily Dot, Catster and Neatorama.
Golden Kitty Award
In August 2012, Henri’s second video won the Golden Kitty award (shown below, left), the top award at the Internet Cat Video Film Festival in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was chosen by viewers out of 10,136 submissions, beating the Japanese cat Maru “by a landslide.” William Braden (shown below, right with Lil Bub and his owner) accepted the award, where he was quoted as saying “I don’t think I’ve ever purred this loudly.”
Shortly after receiving the Golden Kitty award, Braden announced that he had secured a book deal for Henri that would be published on April 30th, 2013 by a Random House imprint. This announcement was followed by interviews with the Seattle Times, ABC News and the LA Times during which he revealed that he makes approximately $1,000 per week through revenues from Henri’s online merchandise store, which allows him to give up his wedding videographer gig to work full time with Henri.
The Daily Dot – YouTube Right Now! "Henri Le Chat Noir, Love Anais Mittins
Huffington Post – Henri Le Chat Noir, French Speaking Existential Cat, Goes To The Vet
Seattle Times – Garfield High grad wins Internet Cat Video Film Festival