Sunday, April 25, 2010


Bernadette was a basset hound most famous for her role as Cleo on The People's Choice (1955-1958) starring Jackie Cooper and Patricia Breslin.

Bernadette's trademark were her long beautiful ears, they were so long she often stepped on them.

Bernadette could lie down on her tummy with her hind legs splayed out behind her, balance a ball at the end of her nose, crawl and bark like a seal, she could climb a ladder and walk a tightwire (blindfolded) and could stand on her head in a corner.

Bernadette was trained by the legendary Frank Inn. Frank Inn was contacted by the production team for The People's Choice who wanted Inn to find a sad faced dog for the series. Frank Inn found a basset hound for slae and bought Bernadette for $85.00.

While Bernadette was waiting in the car for Frank Inn to complete the transaction, she pulled the keys out of the ignition, chewed through the leather strap of the key chain and scattered all the keys over the car.

Frank Inn worked with Bernadette day and night until she could master all the tricks required for the show and overcome her nervousness.

Frank Inn later learned Bernadette had been sold three times prior to his acquiring her. She had a habit of chewing up things, couldn't be housebroken, and had other bad habits. But through Frank Inn's careful training and love, Bernadette overcame her difficulties.

Mary Jane Croft provided Bernadette's thoughts and wise cracking comments for The People's Choice.

Bernadette also appeared on Ozzie and Harriet, The Bob Cummings Show, The Perry Como Show, The Beverely Hillbillies, and The Danny Thomas Show.

She also made publicity appearances for the March of Dimes and Easter Seals.

Bernadette received a PATSY award in 1958.

Bernadette also appeared in "Little Golden Book #287 CLEO" written by Irwin Shapiro, photos by Durward B. Graybill that featured all full-color photos from the show.

Bernadette died of a heart attack at the age of 12. Her ashes rest in a tiny bronze urn in the home of her trainer, Frank Inn.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sea Sovereign

In honor of Shirley Temple's 82nd birthday on April 23rd, today we are saluting Sea Soverign her co-star in The True Story of Seabiscuit (1949).

In 1949, a romantic fictionalized account of Seabiscuit was made into a motion picture. The Story of Seabiscuit starred Shirley Temple, Barry Fitzgerald, Lon McCallister, Rosemary de Camp, and Donald MacBride.

Seabiscuit was a real racing horse born on May 23, 1933 in Lexington, Kentucky. One true account of Seabiscuit's life depicted in the movie was the race entitled "The Match of the Century." By archive footage, the actual race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral (Seabiscuit's cousin) is shown in the movie.

However, in the movie, Seabiscuit is actually played by Sea Sovereign, the real life son of Seabiscuit and the great grandson of Man O' War (who appeared in Kentucky Pride, 1925, and was a champion racehorse).

Sea Sovereign was foaled in 1942 by Charles Howard (Seabiscuit's owner). Sea Sovereign's mother was Queen Helen by Light Brigade.

Sea Sovereign had a very brief career as a race horse. His career reflected eight starts, three firsts (including the Santa Catalina Handicap in 1945), and $34,070 in earnings.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ace The Wonder Dog

Ace the Wonder Dog was a German Shepherd that appeared in 16 films in the 1930s and 1940s.

He is considered by many critics an attempt by RKO Pictures to cash in on the success of Warner Bros.' canine sensation, Rin Tin Tin.

Ace made his film debut in 1938 in Blind Alibi.

In 1943, he played Devil, the Phantom's sidekick in The Phantom films serial.

In 1948, he appeared as Rusty in The Adventures of Rusty, the first of Columbia's eight "Rusty" films. He did not reprise the role in the subsequent seven films.

He also appeared in Orphans of the Street (1938), Home on the Range (1938),
Almost a Gentleman (1939), The Rookie Cop, (1939) , Girl from God's Country (1940)
The Girl from Alaska (1942), War Dogs (1942), Silent Witness (1943), Headin' for God's Country (1943), The Monster Maker (1944), Danny Boy (1946) and
God's Country (1946).

During his career in Hollywood, Ace worked for Columbia, Republic, Monogram and PRC.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Red was a large shaggy dog most notable for playing Jasper the Second on Bachelor Father and Fang on Get Smart. Red's breed has been reported to be part briard as well as a Labradoodle (a cross between a Labrador and a poodle).

Red was owned by famed animal trainers Rudd and Frank Weatherwax (of The Studio Dog Training School) but trained by their brother Bill Weatherwax.

In 1960, Red made his debut on the fourth season of the hit television show Bachelor Father entitled Jasper the Second. Red replaced aging animal actor Tramp who played Jasper the First from 1957-1960.

Red would remain with Bachelor Father until 1962 when the show was cancelled.

In 1965, Red was cast to play Fang in Get Smart (1965-1970). Fang worked for the spy organization Control. His code name was K-13 and his under cover name was Morris. Fang frequently helped bumbling secret agent, Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). When Fang retired, the Chief of Control (Ed Platt) assigned him to burying evidence.

Fang was written out of Get Smart in 1966 because of his inability to take commands. Consequently, the dog's undisciplined behavior caused the director to do multiple takes and run up the cost of each production.

Red appeared with Don Adams and Barbara Feldon on the front cover of TV Guide on August 27, 1966.

Red also appeared as Shag in an episode of Lassie.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Syn, a seal point siamese, starred in two films: The Incredible Journey (1963) and That Darn Cat (1965).

Syn was owned by long time siamese cat breeder Edith Williams. Syn was a traditional or "old style" Siamese, as opposed to the more dainty, long and tubular modern Siamese show cats.

Syn was trained for both movies by Bill Koehler.

In The Incredible Journey (1963) Syn played Tao. Tao and two dogs (Luath and Bodger) travel 300 miles through the Canadian wilderness searching for their beloved masters.

Bill Koehler used a large swinging sheep bell to prompt Syn to perform tricks and stunts in The Incredible Journey.

In 1965, Syn starred as D.C. (Darn Cat) in That Darn Cat (1965). D.C. is an adventurous Siamese tomcat who lives with two young sisters Ingrid (Dorothy Provine) and Patti Randall (Hayley Mills), who becomes involved with a kidnapping and bank robbers.

For That Darn Cat, Bill Koehler used a tape recording of a bell broadcast with meat smeared on the speaker, which was placed through out the set, under clothing, behind and under furniture to cue Syn to perform.

Syn and Haley Mills bonded, during rehearsals, she cradle the cat in her lap, Syn responded by kneading her, licking her wrist and head bonks.

Syn won a PATSY Award in 1966 for his work on That Darn Cat.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sammy's Shadow

In 1958, Walt Disney productions was making its first live-action feature comedy based on the novel The Hound of Florence (1930) by Felix Salten (most famous for writing Bambi).

In the novel, a young Austrian, yearning for immortality as an artist, is granted a wish that turns him onto a dog, enabling him to make the journey to Italy in pursuit of his dream.

In the movie, Wilby Daniels, a teenage boy is transformed into a Old English Sheepdog by a spelled ring of the Borgias.

Disney productions needed an english sheep dog to play the old english sheep dog. Sammy's Shadow won the part. Sammy's Shadow was an English Sheep Dog born to Ch Norval Pride King (sire) and Ch Lillibrad Lindy Lou (Dam).

Now that they had their english sheep dog. Disney needed a trainer They turned to William Koehler. This would be the beginning of a long association between Disney and Koehler.

Koehler developed the Koehler Method of Dog Training, a training approach based on the premise that dogs will make their own decisions. This training method is used frequently by law enforcement and the military.

William Koehler had been a dog trainer during World War II. He trained more than 25,000 dogs for the war.

William Koehler trained animals for Disney productions during the 1950s and 1960s. He worked with animals on films such as The Incredible Journey (1963) Big Red (1962), That Darn Cat (1965), and The Ugly Dachshund (1966).

Sammy's Shadow only appeared in one movie but he became an instant star. In 1959, he was voted top movie animal star of the year. He also won the PATSY award for his performance.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blair, The first Canine Movie Star

Before there was Lassie, there was Blair, a collie owned by British director Cecil Hepworth.

Man's best friend has been a part of films for over 100 years with Blair's debut in 1905.

According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the very first movie starring a canine was in 1905.

In 1905, Blair became the very first canine to star in a movie. Blair played Rover in Rescued by Rover.

In Rescued by Rover (1905) saves a baby (played by Cecil's daughter Barbara) from thieving gypsies but also brings the wrongdoer to justice.

This movie began the trend toward telling stories of canine heroism. It also began the trend of naming dogs Rover, which until this movie was an uncommon name for a dog.

Blair next appeared in The Dog Outwits the Kidnappers (1908). In this film, the story is essentially the same story as Rescued by Rover but this time, a car is involved and the dog drives it.

Blair paved the way for Jean, the Vitagraph Dog (the United States first canine movie star), Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin and most notably Lassie.