September 25 – Remember Me Thursday™ Candle-Lighting Event to Honor Orphan Pets and Interview with Animal Lover and Actor, Eric Roberts

1-ER-banner Today is Remember Me Thursday™ – an annual global candle-lighting event held the fourth Thursday of September that was created in 2013 by Michael Arms, the President of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in honor of those people working in animal welfare who are forced to take the lives of the pets they love. He felt that by lighting a candle worldwide for all those orphan pets, that it would be a way for people to let the world know how much they were loved and to opt to adopt, reducing the millions of orphan pets euthanized each year.

I shared a post on Monday with the many ways we all can participate in this event along with a great visual graphic to share (please click here if you missed it) and I also promised you an interview with one of the celebrity luminaries, Eric Roberts, who finds loving animals and rescuing them something ingrained in him as naturally as breathing.

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Eric at the 2009 Film Independent’s Spirit Awards. Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA. Photo by s_bukley

His love for animals began when he was a young boy, growing up in Atlanta where he lived in a home that always seemed to have Siamese cats and horses. He spent most of his weekends going to the local shelters trying to find homes for those rescues most in need, typically cats, and as time went on to where he is today – a renowned actor with an impressive resume that includes over 100 film and television performances and an Academy Award nomination for his role in Runaway Train and three Golden Globe nominations for Runaway Train, Star 80, and King of the Gypsies, his love for animals and their importance in his life has never wavered.

Intertwined in that illustrious career (click here for his full bio, as he has far too many credits to list) is an equally impressive and talented family. Eric is the father of actress Emma Roberts and older brother of actresses Julia Roberts and Lisa Roberts Gillian and has been married to casting director and actress, Eliza Roberts since 1992 and is step-father to Eliza’s children, Morgan (a chef and owner of a catering company) and Keaton Simons (a recording and performing artist). But, despite all the fame and glory, his life has had its shares of highs and lows and that prompted me to wonder, was there a particular animal that changed his life? As I suspected he would say, the answer was a definite “yes.”

As Eric tells it, he was in a serious automobile accident many years ago that left him unable to walk.  After checking out of the hospital and not wanting to go home to an empty house, he stopped at a pound where he found her – a pure white ball of fur that was half Siamese, half something else with one blue eye and one yellow eye that changed his life. He was told that she was there because she couldn’t be housebroken but when he brought her home, he gave her a litter box and never once had a problem. He named her Mercedes and it seemed that as he was re-educating his body to learn to walk again, all while struggling with the social pressures that came along with his career, that Mercedes became his best friend and that she was the “one person” who knew him completely. She lived to be nearly 20 years old and because of his love for her; he said that every time there was ever a white cat that he saw was homeless, he would take it in.

The more you get to know Eric, the more you realize that cats have always been an integral part of his life, seeming to fate him to what was meant to be. Eliza, his wife and human soul mate might not have ever been had it not been for a cat. Apparently both Eric and Eliza were on the same flight heading back to Los Angeles and found themselves sitting next to one another. Eliza had preconceived thoughts of Eric as being a very dark and tough guy. But there he was, sitting next to her with a cat in a box named “Tender” in his lap. It was at that moment all images she had of him blew up and being that Eliza was a devout animal lover herself, it was no surprise that the relationship took off and eventually they were married.

And that is when you realize when you set out to interview Eric Roberts about his love for animals, that the interview is not about Eric Roberts, but about Eric and his entire extended family who are all connected and compelled to help animals in need. One such example was the time he and Eliza were in traveling in Russia – they happened upon a bear named Stepan that was confined to a small cage as part of a roadside attraction. Outraged and heartsick, through their efforts and determination, the bear was successfully relocated to the Rostov Zoo to pair with a companion and was renamed Eric.

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Dexter and Billie are two dogs that were rescued and live with Keaton Simons. Dexter was rescued off of death row and had a rope that had grown into his neck and a dislocated arm and Billie was thrown out of a car on the freeway. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

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A happy and healthy Dexter – according to the shelter worker who had been in charge of Dexter, he had very little hope Dexter would ever be adopted, so he was so happy to know Dexter is now thriving. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

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This is Duke who was rescued from New Leash on Life/K9s Only. He lives with Eliza’s ex-husband, Jimmy Simons, who Eliza remains close with. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

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Eric getting some help with script reading from Beaux – a street rescue who lives with producing partner, Jon Hoffman, who also has a great line of animal protection items he invented. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

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Eric and his beloved dog, Muddy. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

The rescue work continued – initially through the efforts of Eliza’s children, Keaton and Morgan, who were constantly doing personal rescues for dogs who were least likely to be adopted, such as dogs that were thrown out of car windows. One such rescue was a dog that was a junkyard puppy born in the back seat of a car – Eric ended up taking him home and named him Muddy. Muddy was a Pit Bull/German Shorthair mix that Eric admits did need to go to camp for “manners” training but after that, he was a sweet and gentle boy and he and Eric were inseparable until 2009, when at the age of 14 Eric had to cross Muddy to the Bridge because he had cancer.

And of course the cats. After Mercedes passed at nearly 20 years old, Eric finally felt ready for another rescue and when Eliza heard that, she camped out at 5:30 in the morning, waiting for a local animal shelter to open and found that a litter had been left on the shelter’s doorstep without a mom. One of the kittens was white, so naturally that was the one that went home with her. They named him Stu (aka Streak) and he is still with Eric and Eliza.

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Stu – aka Streak because when he was a kitten, he ran like a streak of lightning. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

Another rescue cat was Sunshine. Sunshine was an orange tabby cat famous for starring in music videos and commercials and once his tenor was done, he found himself at 11 ½ years old without a job, dumped outside. The rescue organization, Cat Connection, brought him to Eric and Eliza, knowing they would give him a good home in his senior days. Eliza told me that Sunshine’s favorite thing was reading with Eric, giving “final script approval” on all his projects and he was very well-loved until he passed on several years later.

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Eric sharing some precious snuggle time with sweet Sunshine. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

Then there is Brooklyn Rita, a Russian Blue rescue who was found as a tiny kitten with another litter, trying to nurse off of the mother because her own kitty momma abandoned her, as well as rescue, Heart, who became Brooklyn’s boyfriend.

Brooklyn was supposed to be it, the “no more cats” mandate issued by Eric. This was all well and good until Eliza drove Eric to the airport for a location shoot. She was concerned that Brooklyn appeared to be looking for her kitten mates, so she went home, picked Brooklyn up for her shots and brought her to the woman who had given her Brooklyn hoping to  find her a friend. Heart was put into the carrier with Brooklyn and they instantly fell into each other’s arms. Eliza took both of them for their shots and when Eric came home, he had a surprise. Naturally, everyone knew all along that Eric would lose the “one cat or two” battle!

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Girlfriend and boyfriend Brooklyn Rita and Heart sharing some cuddle time. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

According to Eliza, Heart is a real lover and is their “dog-cat.” He loves to be held like a human baby and greets everyone at the door. Eliza sadly states that Brooklyn has recently lost her eyesight and while she does not like to be picked up like Heart, she does like to sleep nuzzled up next to them in bed.

They also had found a feral that had been hit by a car several years ago that they named Kittridge. While it didn’t happen until towards the end of her life, she eventually became trustworthy enough that she finally came into their house and cuddled with them as well as Heart which is one of Eliza’s favorite success stories.

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Kittridge with Heart – after several years of being feral, towards the end of her life she finally started to come into the house for attention and cuddling. Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

Clearly the stories could go on and on – from Eliza rescuing bees in the swimming pool of an Emmy party she and Eric were attending to them requesting walnuts be in their hotel room anytime they traveled so that they could feed any squirrels they happened upon. Eric and his extended family are completely embroiled in rescue and besides living with their menagerie of their own rescued dogs and cats, they have shared their home with countless squirrels, raccoons, birds, bees, bugs, horses, goats, and more – all of them treated with compassion for the living, breathing creatures they are.

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This is an injured hummingbird that Eric and Eliza found – Eliza brought it to a hummingbird rescuer in Redondo Beach and after antibiotics and gradual therapy, the bird was eventually set free and is doing great! Photo courtesy of Eric and Eliza Roberts

They are also both heavily involved with animal fundraisers and charity events as well as hands-on emergency rescue work and are big proponents of spay/neuter and promoting the virtues of TNR for feral cats. Two organizations that they work with on a consistent basis are Precious Paws and Best Friends Animal Society. Precious Paws is especially personal to Eliza, as it was founded by her casting assistant, Georgyne La Lone, and they are a small group that does fosters and adoption events and all they can to help educate the public on the need for TNR to reduce the overpopulation problem.

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Eric and Eliza in 2003 with Muddy at the Best Friends 10th Annual Animal Sanctuary Lint Roller Party, Barker Hanger, Santa Monica, CA. Photo by s_bukley

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Eric at one of his many adoption events where he shows everyone what a good sport he is! The good news, Jack was adopted!

So, with all that, it is clearly no surprise Eric is one of the celebrity luminaries for Remember Me Thursday™. For him, as well as his entire family, it is all about helping the animals which is the message he shares on behalf of Remember Me Thursday:

“Everything we do come down to wanting to feel safe. Animals cannot life a safe life without the help of humans in more cases than we can possibly count. Most animals are not headed for a safe, loving home. It’s a no-brainer. Please help change that, one (or two or three) animals at a time. Bring home an animal friend from a shelter or other rescue adoption source today, this week, this month, this year. It’s magic requiring no magician. On Remember Me Thursday, let’s put the spotlight on our animal friends awaiting adoption.”

I thank Eric and Eliza for so graciously sharing some of their personal photographs with us as well as a bit about their lives. It was a pleasure corresponding with them and I thank them both so much for what they do for animal welfare.

Please remember to light your candle today for Remember Me Thursday™ and to see more of Eric, he will be in the upcoming Season 4 of Suits (USA Network) in a recurring role. He will also be in an upcoming movie that has been listed by the New York Film Festival and the cat will be let out of the bag, so to speak, around October 5th! Stay tuned!

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  1. Great interview Deb! I’ve always been a fan, and now even more so!! There’s something seriously special about a man that love cats! Thanks so much for sharing Eric and Eliza’s story.

  2. We lit a candle and spread the word. Purrs

  3. stephani says:

    Thanks for sharing, Deb and help spreading the word.

  4. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    our candle was lit for barry, snow, turtle and gray, and all their feral friends….it was the least
    I could do to give them a name ♥♥

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for lighting a candle for barry, snow, turtle, gray, and all their feral friends, ta tabbies. It is the least we can do and I am sure they are watching from above, thanking you for remembering them.

  5. what a wonderful interview and insight into how they are giving back. our candle has been lit

  6. Deb this was marvelous!!! I (and many others I am sure) know who Eric Roberts is but I NEVER, EVER knew that he was a huge animal advocate and about the amazing lengths he went to to help animals and adopt. This was a most enlightening and heartwarming story. Thank you sooooooo much for sharing! xoxo

    • Deb says:

      So glad you enjoyed the story Caren – that was just the tip of the iceberg! I am in awe of the whole family and they truly are an inspiration to us all!

  7. Lovely. Absolutely lovely.

    Purrs,
    Nissy

  8. mariodacat says:

    What a beautiful story about a very special family. Thanks for sharing this with us. I’m a rescue and proud of it too. I actually chose my humans when they came to the Humane Society’s Shelter.

  9. Brian Frum says:

    That was such a wonderful post about someone really making a difference.

  10. What a great interview. We too thought Eric Roberts was a bit of a tough guy…but we can see he just a softie when it comes to animals. 🙂

  11. What a lovely interview! It’s wonderful to hear that they are so involved in animal rescue. Every rescue counts!

  12. I love when celebrities use their platform for compassionate efforts, setting a positive example for all. Our choices matter, and how we influence others can have a lasting ripple effect of good or bad. Love this story…and Eric for putting so much love for the animals out to the world!

    • Deb says:

      I completely agree, Karen. I think celebrities can bring an enormous amount of awareness to a cause by setting good examples. Eric and Eliza are true ambassadors for animal advocacy because they are not just “talking the talk,” they are “walking the walk” too. I’m glad you enjoyed the story!

  13. NANCY SCHWOPE says:

    THANK YOU FOR SUCH AN UPLIFTING STORY.

  14. I recently saw Eric on Celebrity Wife Swap. I don’t usually watch the show but there was something so inviting about the Roberts lived-in home. So not Hollywood and real. He and his lovely family walk the talk and your piece drives it home. On an odd aside: years ago I almost bought a vintage cat that belonged to Eric but hubby thought it would be too much maintenance.