The Cat and the Canary (play)

The Cat and the Canary is a 1922 stage play by John Willard, adapted at least four times into feature films, in 1927, 1930, 1939, and again in 1979. The original stage play opened on Broadway February 7, 1922.

The Cat and the Canary
Advertising herald for the
1922 Broadway production
Written byJohn Willard
Date premieredFebruary 7, 1922 (1922-02-07)
Place premieredNational Theatre,
New York City
Original languageEnglish
SettingGlencliff Manor on the Hudson


The story concerns the death and inheritance of old Cyrus West, a rich eccentric who felt that his relatives "have watched my wealth as if they were cats, and I — a canary". He decrees that his will be read 20 years after his death, at which point his relatives converge at his old family home, now a spooky old haunted mansion.

The will reads that his most distant relative still bearing the name of West be sole heir, provided they are legally sane. The rest of the night spent in the house calls into question the sanity of Annabelle West, a fragile young woman who is legally Cyrus West's heir.


Produced by Kilbourn Gordon and directed by Ira Hards, The Cat and the Canary premiered February 7, 1922, at the National Theatre. It ran 349 performances, closing December 2, 1922. The three-act mystery made a return engagement of 40 performances (April 23 – May 26, 1923).[1]



The Cat and the Canary was published by Samuel French in 1921.[3]



  1. "The Cat and the Canary". Playbill. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  2. Hornblow, Arthur (May 1922). "Mr. Hornblow Goes to the Play". Theatre Magazine. pp. 234–235. Retrieved 2017-01-03.
  3. Willard, John (1921). The Cat and the Canary: A Melodrama in Three Acts. New York: Samuel French. OCLC 271434115.
  4. Jim Hill. "A special what-might-have-been version of Why For".
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