Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Rin Tin Tin (The Real Story)
Now I never knew this before, but Rin Tin Tin was a real dog! If you already know this to be a fact you can stop reading now. But, if like me, you have been ignorant of this for about the last 60 years, read on. It’s a pretty cool story.
Rin Tin Tin was actually a German Shepard who was rescued from a battlefield by an American soldier. He had no idea that he would become a star at the time. He was just glad to get off the dam battlefield alive. Lee Duncan, the American soldier who found him, named him Rinty and began to train him for work as a stunt dog in silent films. He made 27 of the films in all. Darryl F. Zanuck is said to have built his storied career on the success of those 27 films.
The only dog who had achieved such success in films at that [point was another German Shepard named Strongheart. These 2 dogs are responsible for making German Shepherds acceptable as family pets. When the 1929 Oscars rolled around Rin Tin Tin received the most votes for Best Actor in the film “Frozen River”. But the Academy decided to go with a human that year instead.
In 1932 Rin Tin Tin made his final exit from stage and life. But the show must go on, and several dogs related to the original Rin Tin Tin were now featured in stories in movies and on the radio. Rin Tin Tin, Jr; Rin Tin Tin III both appeared in films during the 1930’s, and Rin Tin Tin III went on to help train dogs for the Second World War. That must have been strange; German Shepard’s training to fight other Germans. C’est le guerre. He also appeared in a film in 1947 with Robert Blake.
By the mid 1950’s Duncan was training Rin Tin Tin IV for a role in a television series. But the dog just ccouldn'tcut it and was replaced with a dog from noted canine trainer Frank Barnes's kennel. That dog was named Flame, Jr. This was not something which the network wanted to advertise. Rin Tin Tin IV was secreted away to his home in Riverside and Flame, Jr. performed in his name.
Hopefully this information has not caused any emotional harm to anyone. It would seem strange though, to see an episode of the show and see the credit as “Flame, Jr!” instead of Rin Tin Tin. It just doesn't have that ring to it.