Rin Tin Tin

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Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin (often billed as Rin-Tin-Tin in the 1920s and 1930s) was the name given to several German Shepherds of film and television.

The first of the line (c. September 5, 1918August 10, 1932) was a shell-shocked pup found by American serviceman Lee Duncan in a bombed-out dog kennel in Lorraine, France less than two months before the end of World War I. Named for a puppet called Rintintin that French children gave to the American soldiers for good luck, at war's end Duncan took the dog back to his home in Los Angeles, California.

Nicknamed "Rinty" by his owner, the dog was taught tricks and could leap more than 13 feet. He was seen performing at a dog show by film producer Darryl F. Zanuck, who paid Lee Duncan to film him. Duncan became convinced that Rin Tin Tin could become the next Strongheart. The dog's big break came when he stepped in for a recalcitrant wolf in The Man From Hell's River (1922). Rin Tin Tin would be cast as a wolf or wolf-hybrid many times in his career, despite looking little to nothing like one. His first starring role, 1923's Where the North Begins, was a huge success often credited with saving Warner Brothers from bankruptcy. It was followed by Shadows of the North (1923), Clash of the Wolves (1925), A Dog of the Regiment (1927), Tiger Rose (1929), and The Lightning Warrior (1931). The dog also had his own radio show in 1930 called The Wonder Dog, on which he did his own sound effects.

True to his French birthright, to the sounds of classical music being played, the dog dined each day on a choice cut of tenderloin steak specially prepared by a private chef.

Following Rin Tin Tin's death in 1932 in Los Angeles, California, (in the arms of actress Jean Harlow, according to Hollywood legend) his owner arranged to have the dog returned to his country of birth for burial in the Cimetière des Chiens, the renowned pet cemetery in the Parisian suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine.

As with most canine film stars, Rin Tin Tin had several uncredited doubles. Rin Tin Tin, Jr. appeared in several short films in the 1930s including the twelve-part series, The Adventures of Rex and Rinty. Rin Tin Tin III starred alongside a young Robert Blake in 1947's The Return of Rin Tin Tin.

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, an ABC television series that ran between October of 1954 and May of 1959, featured Duncan's Rin Tin Tin IV as the lead dog, although much of the work was actually performed by dogs named Rin Tin Tin II and JR. None of these three were descended from the original or resembled him much physically. The name Rin Tin Tin has since been attached to various projects that have had little if anything to do with Duncan or his dogs.

Rin Tin Tin was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1623 Vine Street. The bloodline of Rin Tin IV continues through breeding of his offspring at a kennel in Latexo, Texas. In 2004, publisher Little, Brown reportedly agreed to pay Susan Orlean more than $1 million for a Rin Tin Tin biography.

Early Rin Tin Tin movies

  • Man from Hell's River (1922)
  • Where the North Begins (1923)
  • Shadows of the North (1923)
  • The Lighthouse by the Sea (1924)
  • Clash of the Wolves (1925)
  • The Night Cry (1926)
  • While London Sleeps (1926)
  • Hills of Kentucky (1927)
  • Tracked by the Police (1927)
  • A Race for Life (1928)
  • The Million Dollar Collar (1929)
  • A Dog of the Regiment (1929)
  • Tiger Rose (1929)
  • The Wonderdog (1930) - radio show
  • The Lightning Warrior (1931)

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