The first recorded on screen dog was in 1895. It was a forty-five second silent film showing workers leaving a factory in France. This was the first phase of dogs in film. The next phase was in the 1920s when dogs became stars. Throughout the years, dogs accompanied several big stars on the silver screen. Here are some of the biggest doggie stars and facts you may not have known about each!
Rin Tin Tin was the first noteworthy dog star. “Rinty,” as his owner called him, was rescued by a World War I soldier. He started Rin Tin Tin in silent films, and he ended up starring in a total of twenty-seven Hollywood films. This made German Shepherds become desirable and popular family pets. Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, and many spin-offs emerged on screen. He may be considered as the Charlie Chaplin of dogs. HIs legacy continues to live on, his famous bloodline still run strong, and the twelfth in line currently makes public appearances.
Not many people know that the renowned male dog Toto from The Wizard of Oz is actually a female Cairn Terrier named Terry, especially because Terry was credited as Toto in the credits. She starred in quite a few other films, but is most known for her role as Toto. She lived until she was eleven, and she is even recognized by a memorial in Hollywood.
Lassie may be the most famous onscreen dog of all time. He was played by a dog named Pal throughout the original series. Pal was known for gender bending for his role. Most people may have assumed that Lassie was played by a female Rough Collie, but Pal was indeed a male! Similar to the descendant dogs who took on the role of Rin Tin Tin following the original’s death, Pal’s descendants played the iconic character as the series continued and a movie went into production. Pal may be considered the Marlon Brando of pups in film. When producers cast a non-Pal bloodline collie in 1997, and it was met with a great deal of protest. People love Pal!
Beasley from Turner and Hooch, 1989
The buddy cop comedy starring Tom Hanks alongside a Dogue de Bordeaux, features Beasley in his first and only role at the age of ten when the film came out. Sadly, he passed away three years later at the ripe old age of thirteen. It remains one of the most famous films starring the massively amazing breed, placing it in the cultural lexicon.
Beethoven is actually played by a Saint Bernard named Chris. He was one of the highest earning dogs that ever starred in a movie. He was also voted as favorite
dog in a film. Chris was only in the first two Beethoven movies out of the eight that have been produced. Over six different dogs have filled his shoes, males and females.
Uggie was a Jack Russell Terrier most famous for his roles in Water for Elephants and The Artist. A campaign called “Consider Uggie” was launched on Facebook as a way to seek professional recognition for his work. He did not win an academy award, but he did win the Palm Dog Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011. Uggie passed recently in 2015 at the age of thirteen. This pup’s paw prints have been cemented on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to inspire the future of canines in film.
Because of all the great dogs who have paved the way by acting alongside their human counterparts, and engaging in Oscar-worthy performances as other dogs, these great dogs will continue to appear on the silver screen in acting roles. As long as dogs are man’s best friend they will remain a staple of Hollywood and continue to act as other lovable pups and become just as iconic as the ones who paved the way.