How the Dog Actor Rin Tin Tin Saved Warner Bros. Studios From Bankruptcy in 1923 — GeekTyrant
Hollywood has a long history of casting dogs in movies. Family movies, action movies, and movies that follow the animals on journeys. Anyone could rattle off a number of movies about dogs from over the years, but one dog seemingly started it all, and his name was Rin Tin Tin.
“In 1918, Lee Duncan, a U.S. soldier fighting in World War I, discovered him among a litter of German shepherd puppies left to die on a bombed-out field in France. (They were apparently being bred to service the Imperial German Army.) Duncan found homes for the pups and kept two for himself, naming them Rin Tin Tin and Nanette, after two popular yarn dolls French children gave to soldiers as good-luck charms.”
Once back home in Los Angeles, Duncan took his pup, whom he’d nicknamed “Rinty” down to Hollywood after seeing him win the competitions he entered him in. Rinty was first cast as a wolf in 1922’s The Man From Hell’s River.
One year later, he was sharing billing with silent-movie actress Claire Adams in Where the North Begins. The silent film was written by Duncan, who studied Rinty’s facial expressions and concocted dramatic scenarios that took full advantage of them. The result was a dog who was able to “register emotions and portray a real character with its individual loves, loyalties and hates,” as Duncan once put it.
The film cost Warner Bros. $100,000 to produce, and made $352,000, rescuing the studio from bankruptcy and leading to 26 more pictures until Rin Tin Tin’s death on August 10, 1932, one month shy of his 14th birthday. Rin Tin Tin Jr., one of 50 pups he sired, went on to some success, as did grandpuppy Rin Tin Tin III, who starred in 1947’s The Return of Rin Tin Tin.
I am a dog-lover, and I think it’s cool that Rin Tin Tin lived out his life making movies. It sounds like he was a smart pup, and lived a good, long life.
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