Classic Stardust.com

Where the stars always sparkle.

Hollywood's Furry Friends.

Ever wonder who that cute dog is beside your favorite star? Well, look no further!

Name: Terry (later changed to Toto)

Breed: Cairn Terrier

Terry is still fondly remembered as Dorothy's pet, Toto, in 1939's The Wizard of Oz, the dog who stayed at Judy Garland's heels throughout the entire picture. Surprisingly and unlike the other animals listed here, Terry was a female! It is thought, from "Hango" Dennison, niece of dog trainer, Carl Spitz, that Terry was brought to her uncle's Hollywood dog kennel to be trained, but ultimately ended up with the family when the owners decided not to take her back. According to a scrapbook by Carl, Terry was a year old in 1933 when he adopted her. With his training, she appeared in several motion pictures before her big break. After her success in The Wizard of Oz, her name was changed to Toto, but it didn't seem to bother her one bit. She continued to work until her death in the 1940s of natural causes.

Notable films: Bright Eyes (uncredited), Bad Little Angel (uncredited), The Women, and The Wizard of Oz (credited as Toto)

I was able to even find some other photographs of Terry AKA Toto with Hango Dennison and another with a doggy pal, Prince, (another Hollywood star!) both below. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view!

 

Name: Pal (also known as Lassie)

Breed: Collie

A short story written by British writer Eric Knight based on his dog, Toots, for the Saturday Evening Post in 1938 was so successful that it expanded into a novel entitled "Lassie Come Home" two years later. In 1940, a movie version of the story was made, starring a collie named as Pal. Pal was a otherwise normal dog who was trained by Rudd Weatherwax (one of the masterminds behind Skippy-turned-Asta), who eventually gained custody of him after the original owners decided they didn't want him. Like Rin Tin Tin, the Lassie legend have been passed down through several generations, with the most recent being a ninth generation descendent of Pal!

Notable films: Lassie Come Home, Hills of Home, Courage of Lassie, Challenge to Lassie, The Painted Hills (all credited as Pal)

Name: Rin Tin Tin

Breed: German Shepherd

During World War I on September 15th, 1918, Corporal Lee Duncan found a German Shepherd mother and her litter as the only living creatures left in a bombed French dog shelter. All of the canines were rescued, but the Corporal took two for himself, a male and a female he named Rintintin and Nenette, after French puppets given to the American soldiers for good luck. Ultimately, however, on the trip back home to New York (where he was to travel to reach his destination, Los Angeles), Nenette came down with an illness and passed away.

In February 1922, Lee attended a two-day Shepherd Dog Club of America show, amazing everyone with Rin Tin Tin's ability to jump eleven feet, nine inches into the air! Novograph Pictures Company purchased film from a man at the show named Charles Jones, who photographed Rin Tin in action, and offered Lee $350 to film more. With that under his belt, Lee searched for a possible film career for his companion, going to every studio in Hollywood with a script he himself had written, only to be turned down. His luck changed one day as he was going towards other, less-prestigious studios (also known as "poverty row"), he noticed a Warner Brothers film crew struggling to get a wolf on their set to cooperate. He offered his dog's services, but was told to go away. Lee, however, was persistent and the crew finally caved in. Even though the studio at this time was on the brink of bankruptcy, the film, Man from Hell's River, was a success and made an overnight star of Rin Tin.

He was a bonafide movie star, receiving 10,000 fan letters and a $6,000 salary ever week. During filming, Rin Tin even had stunt doubles--which makes sense considering the $100,000 insurance policy on him! In total, Rin Tin starred in twenty-six motion pictures before his death in 1932. (He supposedly passed away in the arms of movie-star/neighbor Jean Harlow.) Rin Tin's son, Junior, whom Lee had kept amongst many litters his dog had fathered, was groomed for stardom and the bloodline continued on. Even now, in the new millennium, dedicated people have kept the legacy of Rin Tin alive with breeding. The last relative of the dog's to be born was in June of 2007.

Notable Films: The Man from Hell's River, My Dad, The Lighthouse by the Sea, Tracked in the Snow Country, The Night Cry (all credited as Rin Tin Tin)

Name: Skippy (also known as "Asta")

Breed: Wire-Hair Fox Terrier

 

Asta, the mischievous dog that belonged to sleuths Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series was so widely popular in his day that fans wanted a dog similar to him—which ultimately led to over-breeding. His real name, however, wasn’t Asta at all. He was given the name Skippy by his owner Henry East (a dog trainer, who along with Rudd Weatherwax, trained him), but after the first Thin Man picture, he was re-named to match the character in the novel of which the film was based.

Notable films: The Thin Man series (credited as Asta), Bringing Up Baby (as "George"), Topper Takes a Trip (as "Skippy"), The Awful Truth (as "Mr. Smith")

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