Bulldog Health

Bulldog Health Article 14: Dog Film Stars Part 1

Dog Film Stars Part 1

Many actors dread having to work side by side with a 4 legged costar. But dogs have become a big part of a specific genre of movies. You can’t make a dog movie without canine actors. Some dog actors take their roles very seriously, while others may be aware of their comic relief in some movies. What all these dog actors have in common is they will always be recognizes as their stage names.

• Rin Tin Tin (1918 – 1932)

Rin Tin Tin was not the first dog actor. But he was the first great dog star. He was a German Shepherd found by Corporal Lee Duncan, a soldier in World War I. Rin Tin Tin was abandoned and starving when his owner came across him. The dog and the rest of his litter were in an abandoned German station. Duncan adopted two of the puppies.

Duncan returned to California. But sadly only Rin Tin Tin survived the trip. Duncan went back to work and entered Rin Tin Tin in several dog shows. Soon the talented canine was discovered. He stepped in to perform the scene another dog had refused. He soon had a contract with Warner Brothers.

Rin Tin Tin was the star of 26 pictures for Warner Brothers Studio. His films initially saved the studio from bankruptcy. In his hay day, more than 10,000 fan letters arrive weekly. He died in 1932 but not before he established a precedent and a dynasty. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, but his remains are buried in the world’s most famous pet cemetery in Asnières-sur-Seine, a suburb of Paris.

Brief Filmography: The Man from Hell’s River (1927), A Dog of the Regiment (1927), Rinty of the Desert (1928), The Famous Warner Brothers Dog (1928), The Lightning Warrior (1931).

• Lassie 1940 –

Second to Rin Tin Tin, Lassie was the biggest canine to hit the big screen. Lassie was trained by Rudd Weathermax. The Weathermax family were known for their excellent animal training. Lassie’s owners sent him to training to get him to stop chasing motorcycles. Seeing how well the Weathermax’s worked with Lassie the owners decided to give up the dog.

Lassie was not intended to be a film star. It just happened. He was initially hired as a stunt dog. He replaced a canine who refused to swim across a raging river. He then took over the role. Soon Lassie was a major motion picture star. His best role was in Lassie Come Home (1943). After he retired from show business, his offspring conditioned the tradition.

Brief Filmography: Lassie Come Home (1943), Son of Lassie (1945), Courage of Lassie (1946), Challenge to Lassie (1949)

• Toto/Terry (1933-1944)

Toto’s real name was Terry. She was a female Black Cairn Terrier who acted across from many of the era’s greatest child stars. Although best known for her role opposite Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, she also acted with other child star, Shirley Temple, in the movie Bright Eyes.

Terry starred in 14 movies. Unlike either Rin Tin Tin or Lassie, Terry was not slotted into 1 specific role. Her performance in The Wizard of Oz, however, did increase her earning power. Her wages went up to a princely $125 a week during shooting. This was more than some of her human costars. Terry also came to the premier at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

Brief Filmography: Bright Eyes (1934), Fury (1936), The Wizard of Oz (1939), The Women (1939) George Washington Slept Here (1942)

• Buddy ( 1989- 1998)

Buddy was only in one movie, Air Bud. Prior to his big screen appearance he was discovered on the David Letterman Show during the Stupid Pet Tricks segment. Buddy shot baskets and even dunked a basketball.

He starred in Air Bud. At the Academy Award that year, he was honored as holding his own among “the greatest Animal Actors of all time. Buddy’s career as a canine movie star was fleeting. Although he spawned an entire series of Air Bud movies, he only starred in one. Buddy lost his back leg to cancer and passed away in 1998

Filmography: Air Bud (1997)

Part 2 of Top Dogs will continue to look at some great canine performers in the world of the cinema.

Information written by Lisa Morganti of ohmydogsupplies.com, the best store to purchase dog dishes online.
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