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Animal Actors: Celebrity Quadrupeds

 by zack on 18 May 2013 |
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Animal actors have a long history in Hollywood. Movie magic and fluffy cute stage hands go together like butter and popcorn. Every variety of animal gets represented eventually, but there are a few standout performances from well-trained domesticated companions. So to shed some interesting light on some of your lesser known four legged celebrities, here’s a short history of some of the most iconic animal actors in show biz.

Rin Tin Tin

While most would probably recognize the name Rin Tin Tin from the early nineties television serial: Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop, this household name has its origins all the way back in WWI. The original Rin Tin Tin was rescued from a French battlefield in the great war along with his sister of the same litter named Nanette. American army corporal, Lee Duncan retrieved them both from a kennel that had been shelled.

After the war he trained Rin Tin Tin for silent film acting, and the dog showed a real aptitude for the big screen. He played in 27 different films throughout his life, and actually had enough votes to win the Academy award for best actor one year. However, the Academy in typical snooty fashion, decided that the recipient had to be human to win. Jerks.

Lassie
Probably the most famous dog of all time, Lassie is another animal actor that enjoyed its heyday long after the character’s inception. The initial story of Lassie again dates back to WWI, that was a good conflict for famous animals. The original, was only half collie, and was credited with saving a man’s life on a torpedoed British pilot boat. She apparently recognized the man as alive in a mass of dead bodies, nuzzling him and keeping him warm until he stirred. He was then rescued by the surviving sailors.

From there Lassie’s legend grew and she became a fictionalized character in a novel first, then a series of movies, and finally the famous television series. The dog’s name that most people recognize as Lassie was Pal. Pal and 8 generations of his descendants have played the character in almost every major Lassie vehicle since the original movie: Lassie Come-Home in 1943.

That Darn Cat

That Darn Cat was a wildly successful Disney film in the early 1960’s, as well as a remake in 1997. The plot featured a mischievous feline named D.C. (Darn Cat,) who manages to help foil a bank robbery in a comically roundabout way. The calamitous kitty character was actually played by a team of Siamese cats. This precautious breed is renowned for being social and extroverted, making it the ideal feline movie star. Still, being such finicky creatures, it’s easier to have a group to work with. You know, in case the star decides it needs a nap mid-scene.

There are plenty more Animal Actors to talk about, but that’s all the room we have on today’s post. Check back next week for another installment in this interesting history of celebrity pets.

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