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Canine Stars: From Rover to Cosmo

Posted May 04, 2011 to photo album "Canine Stars: From Rover to Cosmo"

Starting in 1905 when Rover rescued a baby, dogs have been cinema’s unsung heroes. We look at some of the finest.

Cosmo (Arthur)
Blair (Rover)
Etzel von Oeringen (Strongheart)
Rin Tin Tin (Various Roles)
Skippy (Asta)
Pal (Lassie)
Pal (Petey)
Terry (Toto)
Spike (Old Yeller)
Buddy/Air Bud
Moose (Eddie)
Rin Tin Tin (Various Roles)

Rin Tin Tin (Various Roles)

Born in 1918, Rin Tin Tin was discovered as pup by Corporal Lee Duncan in a World War I battle-ravaged kennel in Lorraine, France. Duncan saved both a male and female from the abandoned litter, naming the pair after the French children puppets––Rintintin and Nenette––given to soldiers for good luck. After the war, Duncan returned with his pups to Los Angeles where he worked in a hardware store. (Nenette sadly did not survive the trip.) A chance filming of RIn Tin Tin doing tricks at a dog show in 1922 led to Duncan pushing to get his canine into the movies. Unable to get studios interested, Duncan eventually slipped Rin Tin Tin in as a wolf in The Man From Hell’s River in 1922. The pooch proved such a hit that Warner Brothers signed Rin Tin Tin up for Where the North Begins (based on a story by Lee Duncan), and 23 more films. Rin Tin Tin was box office gold, so much so that Jack Warner titled him “the Mortgage Lifter.” (His supposed fame in saving Warner Brothers from bankruptcy was later spoofed in the 1976 comedy Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood.) At his height, Rin Tin Tin was getting nearly 10,000 fan letters a month, and earning nearly $6,000. The studio provided their star with his own chef and driver, and had a kennel of 18 look-alikes available if Rinty needed a rest. In 1930, he got his own radio gig as “The Wonder Dog.” At the age of 14, Rin Tin Tin died, supposedly in the arms of Jean Harlow who lived across the street. Heartbroken Duncan returned his beloved pet to France to be buried in the famed Parisian pet cemetery Cimetière des Chiens.