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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)
Skippy (Asta)

Skippy (Asta)

Born in 1931, Skippy was raised to be a Hollywood star. He started his training at three months, and over time he worked with some Hollywood’s top dog handlers, including Frank Inn, Frank Weatherwax (whose brother Rudd trained Lassie), and Henry and Gale Henry East. At one-year old, Skippy was landing extra parts in various films. At age four, he was cast for the part of Asta in The Thin Man, a role that would define his career.  Interestingly the Dashiell Hammett novel on which the movie is based called for a Schnauzer, but the film director wanted a more theatrical creature. When he meet Skippy, he cast him immediately. While Skippy defined the role of Asta, he only appeared in the debut feature and its sequel After The Thin Man (during which he changed his screen name to Asta). While lookalikes showed up in the five other Thin Man movies, Skippy still appeared in a number of other famous films, including The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby and Topper Takes a Trip. The popularity of Asta fueled a market for wire-haired terrier, but Skippy the dog was only about the work. Neither of The Thin Man co-stars William Powell, nor Myrna Loy, developed any relationship with the canine star. Quite the opposite. Loy revealed the dog bit her, so, as she confesses, “our relationship was hardly idyllic.”