Saturday, December 26, 2009


Solomon played the beautiful White Turkish Angora feline of evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld in several James Bond films.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, an evil genius, he is the archenemy of the British Secret Service agent James Bond and head of the global criminal organization SPECTRE with aspirations of world domination.

In the films, Blofeld almost always appears with a white Turkish Angora cat.

Blofeld's habit of cuddling a fluffy white cat while plotting his evil deeds has been much parodied, particularly by Mike Myers with the cat Mr. Bigglesworth in the Austin Powers movie series.

Solomon appared in From Russia With Love (1963), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), and Diamonds are Forever (1971).

Solomon also appeared in Clockwork Orange (1971), his final film appearance.

Turkish Angoras are friendly, intelligent, active cats who enjoy interacting with their human family as well as with other cats. Unlike most cats, many members of this breed love to swim and are drawn to water. Which is probably why a Turkish Angora was chosen for the role of Blofeld's cat.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jean, The Vitagraph Dog

Jean, the Vitagraph Dog was a dog actor that performed title roles in early silent films.

Around 1907, Maine resident and aspiring writer Laurence Trimble moved to New York City with his dog, Jean.

Laurence Trimble sold an article to a local magazine which paved the way for the two of them to visit Vitagraph Studios to do a story on film making.

Laurence Trimble and his dog Jean just happened to be on the set at a time when the company needed a dog to play opposite Florence Turner ("the Vitagraph Girl").

A star was born, Jean and her owner were asked to stay and both became members of the Vitagraph stock company.

Jean became quite popular and was soon known as "the Vitagraph Dog", starring in her own films along with "the Vitagraph Girl" all directed by Larry Trimble.

By 1910, Laurence Trimble became Florence Turner's exclusive director and continued to make films with his lucky dog, Jean, until 1913, when Trimble, Turner, and Jean left Vitagraph and started up Turner Films, Ltd. in England.

World War I interrupted most of their work and, in 1916, Trimble returned to the states. Jean died later that year.

Jean made her movie debut in Jean and the Calico Doll (1910).

Between 1910 and 1912, she starred in sixteen more films. Her films were Jean, the Matchmaker (1910), Jean Goes Foraging (1910), Jean Goes Fishing (1910), A Tin-Type Romance (1910), Jean and the Waif (1910), Where the Winds Blow (1910), Jean Rescues (1911), When the Light Waned (1911), The Stumbling Block (1911), Tested by the Flag (1911), Auld Lang Syne (1911), Jean Intervenes (1912), Playmates (1912), The Church Across the Way (1912), Bachelor Buttons (1912), and The Signal of Distress (1912).

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Higgins was born on December 12, 1957 in Los Angeles, California.

Higgins was one of the best-known dog actors of the 1960s – 1970s. He won a Patsy Award in 1967 and he was cover-featured on an issue of TV Guide magazine.

The animal trainer Frank Inn found the famous canine at the Burbank Animal Shelter as a puppy. A fluffy black-and-tan mixed breed dog, he was marked like a Border Terrier but Frank Inn believed him to be a mix of Miniature Poodle, Cocker Spaniel, and Schnauzer.

Higgins first came to national attention as the pet who played "Dog" in the television sitcom Petticoat Junction for six of the show's seven seasons, from 1964 to 1970, appearing in 163 episodes.

Higgins also made a guest-appeared on the television sitcom Green Acres with Eva Gabor in 1965 and The Beverly Hillbillies.

Higgins starred in the film Mooch Goes to Hollywood with with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Vincent Price.

In 1974, at the age of 14, Higgins came out of retirement to star in Benji.

Higgins had an extraordinary ability to convey a broad range of emotions through his facial expressions. Frank Inn, who trained thousands of animals of all species during his lifetime, told reporters that Higgins was the smartest dog he had ever worked with.

Higgins had a close rapport with the actor Edgar Buchanan, who played Uncle Joe Carson on Petticoat Junction. Buchanan's last film was Benji, which was also the last film that Higgins made. The two actors had an obvious fondness for one another, which is especially clear in Benji.

Frank Inn and Higgins were very close in real life as well as on the job. Frank Inn wrote two poems about Higgins: My Little Brown Dog and My Gift to Jesus.

Higgins died at the age of 17 on November 11, 1975. Higgins was cremated and his ashes were in an urn on the mantel piece in Frank Inn's home.

At Frank Inn's request, Higgin's ashes were buried with him in his coffin when Frank Inn died in 2002.

Higgins's progeny carried on his work in a continuing series of movies and television series featuring the Benji character, beginning with For the Love of Benji in 1977, which starred his daughter Benjean.

My Little Brown Dog by Frank Inn

I have a little brown dog that all my friends dearly love.
It is Benji, "God's Gift", to my family from heaven above.

A dog is one of God's created creatures that is faithful to men.
Because he is so faithful, he is called, "man's best friend."

He is a companion to people, he is a shepherd to sheep.
He guides the blind and he guards your home when you sleep.

Sometime you may betray your dog, but as long as he should live
He will follow his master faithfully and he will always forgive.

I wonder if Christ had a little brown dog that trusted and followed like mine
With two silky ears and a nose round and wet and two eyes round and tender that shine.

I am sure that if Christ had a little brown dog, it would feel like His master was God.
And would need no other proof that Christ was divine, and would worship the ground that He trod.

Now I don't believe that our Lord had a dog, because in the Bible I read
How He prayed in the garden alone, while His friends and disciples had fled.

I am sure that if Christ had a little brown dog, with a heart so tender and warm,
That dog would never have left Him to suffer alone, but he would have snuggled close under His arm.

Licking the fingers on His hands in agony clasped,
Still trying to comfort his boss.
And when they took Jesus away, he would have trotted behind.
He would have followed Him all the way to the cross.

Young children should learn to be faithful at home
Like my little brown dog I described in this poem.

Take them to Church and don't let them get bored,
So they can learn to be faithful and follow the Lord.

They should hear about Jesus, how he was born here on earth,
Remembering what He did for them when we celebrate His birth.

Be filled with the Spirit and you can live without fear,

My Gift To Jesus by Frank Inn

If someone had given baby JESUS a dog that was as loyal as mine,
To sleep by His side and follow Him and feel like He was Divine.

As He grew into manhood He'd have a dog following Him every day,
As He preached to crowds, or if He went into the Garden to pray.

It's so sad that CHRIST went away to face death alone and apart,
With no dog close beside Him to help comfort His MASTER's heart.

When JESUS arose that Easter morn, how happy He would have been,
If a little dog licked the hand of the Man who died for all men.

Our LORD has one now as He just called for my popular dog Benji,
Later, God called for my Wife and now they are both in Eternity.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bamboo Harvester

"Hello, I'm Mister Ed

A horse is a horse, of course of course,
and no one can talk to a horse of course,
that is of course, unless the horse,
Is the famous Mister Ed!

Go right to the source and ask the horse.
He'll give you the answer that you'll endorse.
He's always on a steady course.
Talk to Mister Ed.

People yak-it-ti-yak a streak
and waste your time of day,
but Mister Ed will never speak,
unless he has something to say...

A horse is a horse, of course of course,
And this one will talk 'til his voice is hoarse.
You never heard of a talking horse?
Well, listen to this...

I am Mister Ed"

Bamboo Harvester (Mister Ed) was a Palomino horse was born in 1949 in El Monte, California. His parents were The Harvester (Sire), a Saddlebred owned by Edna and Jim Fagan; and Zetna, (Dam) who was sired by Antez, an Arabian imported from Poland.

Bamboo Harvester was trained by Lester Hilton. Lester "Les" Hilton had been apprenticed under Will Rogers, and also worked with the mules in the "Francis the Talking Mule" movies.

Prior to landing the title role of Mister Ed, he became trained as a show and parade horse by Lester Hilton, a Will Rogers protege.

He was only 12 years old when he became known to the world as Mister Ed, a role for which he was clearly typecast. He neither played, nor did he audition for any other role during his 19-year life. He never appeared on any commercials. He was introduced to the world in his peak role of Mister Ed.

Mister Ed (1949-1970) was voiced by ex-B-movie cowboy star Allan "Rocky" Lane (speaking) and Sheldon Allman (singing).

There are conflicting stories involving of the death of Bamboo Harvester, the horse that played Mr. Ed.

One version is by 1968 the horse was suffering from a variety of health problems. In 1970 he was euthanized with no publicity, and buried at Snodgrass Farm in Oklahoma.

Another version is quoted by Alan Young in his book "Mr. Ed and Me." Young wrote in his book that he'd frequently visit his former "co-star" in retirement. He states that Mr. Ed died from an inadvertent tranquilizer administered while he was "in retirement" in a stable in Burbank, California where he lived with his trainer Lester Hilton.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Cheeta's role was to provide comic relief, convey messages between Tarzan and his allies, and occasionally lead Tarzan's other animal friends to the ape-man's rescue.

There are actually three main animal actors to portray Tarzan's Cheeta: Jiggs, Jiggs Jr. and Cheeta.

Jiggs was born in 1929. He originated the character of Cheeta in the 1930s Hollywood Tarzan movies. He was owned and trained by Tony and Jacqueline Gentry.

Jiggs appeared as Cheeta in the first two Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films, Tarzan the Ape Man (1932) and Tarzan and His Mate (1934).

He also appeared in the Buster Crabbe serial Tarzan the Fearless (1933) and the Herman Brix serial The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935). Jiggs was cast in at least one additional film, Her Jungle Love (1938), starring Dorothy Lamour, which was his last picture.

Jiggs died on February 28, 1938 at age 9, of pneumonia, and was buried March 2, 1938 in the Los Angeles Pet Cemetery.

Jiggs, Jr. (also known as Jiggs II), was a male chimpanzee born about 1935, also owned and trained by Tony and Jacqueline Gentry. He also appeared in a number of Tarzan films, including Tarazan Has Son (1938). It is rumored that Jiggs Jr. went to the Baltimore Zoo when Tony Gentry went into the service in World War II, his ultimate fate is unknown.

The most famous is Cheeta, the animal star of at least 12 Tarzan films as well as the television series in the 1960s. Cheeta was born in Africa in 1932. He made his last film, Doctor Doolittle in 1967.

Cheeta holds the Guinness World Record as the world's oldest chimpanzee. Cheeta is now 77 years old and resides in Palm Springs, California.

Since 2004 there have been several unsuccessful campaigns to secure a star for Cheeta on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and as of 2009 filmmaker Matt Devlen is continuing the effort.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Leo the Lion

In 1916, Goldwyn Pictures first introduced Leo the Lion.

The original logo was designed by Howard Dietz and used by the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation studio from 1916 to 1924. Howard Dietz used a lion as the studio's mascot as a tribute to his alma mater Columbia University, whose althletic teams' nickname is the Lions. He added the lion roar for Columbia's fight song "Roar, Lion, Roar".

The first film to feature the famous Lion was Polly of the Circus (1917).

In 1924, movie theater magnate Marcus Loew bought Metro Pictures Corporation and Goldwyn Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) was born.

Since 1924, Leo the Lion has been the mascot for the Hollywood film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

There have actually been five different lions: Slats, Jackie, Tanner, George and Leo.

Slats was the first lion featured for MGM. He was born at Dublin Zoo, Ireland on March 20, 1919. The first MGM film Slats was He Who Gets Slapped (1924). Slats was used on all black and white films between 1924 and 1928 (with three exceptions). Slats died in 1936.

Jackie made her "official" debut in 1928. However, she did appear in the opening credits of Greed (1924), Ben-Hur (1925), and Flesh and the Devil (1926). She is also the first lion's rorar heard by audiences of the silent film era. She appeared in all black and white MGM films from 1928 to 1956. She also appeared in the opening credits of the Wizard of Oz (1939).

Tanner was used on all Technicolor MGM films (1934—1956) and cartoons (late 1935—1958, 1963—1967), except for The Wizard of Oz (1939). Tanner, whose first appearance was before the short subject Star Night at the Coconut Grove (1934) and his first feature film appearance was before Sweethearts (1938). Tanner was Leo the Lion for 22 years, second only to the current Lion. It is Tannerthat was the most frequently used version throughout the Golden Age of Hollywood as color became the norm.

The fourth lion, George, was introduced in mid-1956 and seved only two years. Two of George's appearances include The Opposite Sex (1956) and The Wings of Eagles (1957). From 1957 to 1958, George was used in tandem with the current lion.

Leo, the fifth lion, was purchased from a famous animal dealer named Henry Trefflich and trained by Ralph Helfer. Leo made his debut in 1957 and has been the mascot for 52 years.

After 93 years, the future of Leo the Lion is uncertain. MGM is crumbling under the weight of almost $4 billion in debt, and is up for sale.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pal (Lassie)

Pal was born on June 4, 1940 in Cherry Osborne's Glamis Kennels in North Hollywood, California. He was a male Rough Collie and the first in a line of such dogs to portray the fictional female collie Lassie in film and television.

The son of Red Brucie of Glamis and Bright Bauble of Glamis, Pal's ancestry is traced to the nineteenth century and England's first great collie, "Old Cockie".

Howard Peck, an animal trainer, brought the eight-month-old collie to Hollywood animal trainer Rudd Weathermax in order to break the animal of uncontrolled barking and a habit of chasing motorcycles.

After working with the dog, Weatherwax gained control of the barking but was unable to break Pal of his motorcycle-chasing habit. Peck was disappointed with the results and gave the dog to Weatherwax in exchange for the money Peck owed him.

Rudd Weatherwax, in turn, gave the dog to a friend. But when Weathermax heard of the film being made called Lassie Comes Home, he sensed Pal was the dog for the movie and bought Pal back.

Rudd's brother Frank Weatherwax, who trained dogs such as Terry (Toto) assisted in training Pal for the movie.

Pal was among 1,500 dogs who auditioned for the title role, but was rejected because he was male, his eyes were too big, his head too flat, and a white blaze ran down his forehead. A female prize-winning show collie was hired to play the title character. Weatherwax was hired to train the star, and Pal was hired as a stunt dog.

During the course of filming, a decision was made to take advantage of a massive flooding of the San Joaquin River in California in order to obtain some live action footage for the film.

The female collie was still in training and refused to do many of the scenes. Weatherwax was on the site with Pal and offered to have his dog perform in a shot in which Pal would swim the river, haul himself out, lie down without shaking the water off his coat, attempt to crawl while lying on his side and finally lie motionless, completely exhausted. Pal performed the scene beautifully and in only one take.

In response, producers fired the female collie and hired Pal in her place and reshot the first six weeks of filming with Pal, now portraying Lassie.

Originally, Lassie Come Home was to be a low budget, black and white children's film. But Pal was so wonderful, doing many scences in one take and his own stunts, that the movies was upgraded to an A film with full advertising support, top publicity and filming in Technicolor.

Pal's success in Lassie Come Home (1943) led to six more films: Son of Lassie (1945), Courage of Lassie (1946), Hills of Home (1948), The Sun Comes Up (1949), Challenge to Lassie (1950), and The Painted Hills (1951).

After the movie The Painted Hills, MGM felt that Lassie had run its course and planned no more Lassie movies. Rudd Weathermax bought the rights to the Lassie name and trademark.

Television producer Robert Maxwell convinced Weatherwax that Pal's future lay in television. Together, the men created a boy-and-his-dog scenario about a struggling family on a weatherbeaten farm in Middle America.

The title role of the boy in the Lassie television series was narrowed to three young actors. It was decided that Pal would make the final decision.

After spending a week with the boys at Weatherwax's North Hollywood home, Pal seemed to like eleven-year-old Tommy Rettiq more than the other two boys. Rettig won the role based on Pal's response, and filming for the two pilots began in the summer of 1954, with Pal portraying Lassie in both.

Pal retired after filming the two pilots (The Inheritence and The Well), and his son, Lassie Junior (who was three years old and had been in training for a couple of years), stepped into the television role. After viewing the pilots, CBS executives immediately signed the 30-minute show to its fall 1954 schedule.

Pal, a devoted father, would accompy his son to filming. Series star Tommy Rettig later recalled, "When Rudd would ask Lassie, Jr. to do something, if you were behind the set, you could see The Old Man get up from his bed and go through the routine back there."

By 1957, Pal was growing blind, deaf, and stiff, and rarely visited the Lassie set.

Pal died in 1958, and, for months, Weatherwax slipped in and out of deep depression. Robert Weatherwax, Rudd's son, later recalled, "It hit him very hard when Pal died."

All dogs in the subsequent 'Lassie' films, and television series, have been descendants of Pal until 2003.

Pal won the Patsy Award of Excellence in 1951 for Challenge to Lassie.

Lassie has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin was born on September 10, 1918 in Lorraine, France.

On September 15, 1918, during World War I, a shell shocked pup was found by US Air Corporal Lee Duncan and his battalion in a bombed out dog kennel in Lorraine. Duncan found a mother Shepherd Dog and her scrawny litter of five pups. Duncan chose two of the dogs, a male and female, while members of his group took the mother and the others back to camp. The only survivors over the next few months were the two pups Duncan had claimed, naming them 'Rin Tin Tin' and 'Nannette' after tiny French puppets the French children would give to the American soldiers for good luck.

When the war ended, Duncan made special arrangements to take his pups back to his home in Los Angeles, but during the Atlantic crossing, Nannette became ill and died, shortly after arriving in America.

In 1922, Duncan and Rin Tin Tin attended an LA dog show, with 'Rinty' performing for the crowd by jumping 13 ½ feet. Following the show, producer Darryl Zanuck asked Duncan if he could try out his new 'moving pictures' camera on the dog.

Rin Tin Tin'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, though he did not look like one.

Rin Tin Tin's first starring role was in Where The North Begins (1922), playing alongside silent screen actress Claire Adams.

Between 1922 and 1931, Rin Tin Tin would make 27 movies. His movies included The Lighthouse by the Sea (1924), Tracked in the Snow Country (1925), Clash of the Wolves (1925), While London Sleeps (1926), A Dog of the Regiment (1927), Land of the Silver Fox (1928), The Man Hunter (1930) and The Lightning Warrior (1931).

Between 1930 and 1932, Rin Tin Tin was in the radio series The Wonder Dog.

On August 10, 1932, Rin Tin Tin was no longer strong enough to go to his master's side. The day he passed away, Jean Harlow, who lived across the street, came over and cradled his head in her lap as he died.

"Rin Tin Tin" was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

After his death, Rin Tin Tin Jr. took over for his father's radio series. He also apperead in several short films in the 1930s, including the 12-part serial, 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.

During World War II, Rin Tin Tin III served at Camp Hahn training more than 5000 dogs and their handlers for the war effort.

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, an ABC television series, which ran from October 1954 to May 1959., featured Rin Tin Tin IV as the star.

Duncan died on September 20, 1960 and Ms. Propps took over caring for Rin Tin Tin heirs. When Ms. Propps died on December 17, 1988, Daphne Hereford took over.

On July 8, 2009, Rin Tin Tin XI was born.

The Rin Tin Tin Museum honoring the original Rin Tin Tin and his heirs is located in Latexo, Texas.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


This week's animal tribute in honor of Halloween is to Pyewacket from the film Bell, Book, and Candle (1958).

Pyewacket, cast with Kim Novak and James Stewart, and the first ever Siamese in film, Pyewacket would steal the show in Bell, Book and Candle and earn the animal version of the Oscar, The Patsy (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year) in 1959.

Bell, Book, and Candle (1958) stars Kim Novak as Gillian Holroyd, your modern-day witch, living in a New York apartment with her Siamese familiar, Pyewacket. Gillian admires Shep Henderson (James Stewart), a mortal, from a far. To make matters worse, Shep is about to marry Merle (Janice Rule), a old college enemy of Gillian's. So Gillian, with the help of Pyewacket, casts a spell on Shep and wins her man.

Pyewacket, is now one of the most famous cat names espeically among the Siamese Cat lovers of the world.

The name Pyewacket actually appeared in 1647 on an infamous woodcut of the General Matthew Hopkins (a witch hunter) with two accused witches caught naming their familiars. One of the familiars is named on the woodcut as Pyewacket. A familiar for a witch, like Gillian in the film Bell Book and Candle, acts as an extension of power. The witch's power embodied in animal form. The familiar can be assigned tasks to complete for the owner which in the film Pyewacket performs plenty. He is the most magical being in the film.

Pyewacket is credited as being played by "the cat" in the film Bell, Book, and Candle and it is his one and only movie. Sources stated that actually nine different siamese cats played Pyewacket in the movie.

Most sources state that Kim Novak is an animal lover and a siamese cat lover and had many siamese cats of her own which were used in the movie. One being renamed Pyewacket in honor of the movie's Pyewacket.

Kim Novak once gave Fred Astaire a siamese cat, he named Caryle, named and her character in their movie The Notorious Landlady (1962).

With Hollywood running with the popular Siamese craze at the time of Bell Book and Candle it fueled the breeding of the cats.

Americans had only enjoyed the Siamese Breed in this country since the beginning of the century. Fifty Six years later, this Siamese in the film, Pyewacket, would be one of the audiences favorite characters in the film. He was smart, gorgeous and funny! Siamese cats would become one of the most popular cat breeds in America.

Pyewacket's success in Bell, Book, and Candle led to other famous siamese cats in television and movies.

In the television show Betwiched, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) has to handle a magical Siamese in an early episode.

In the movie, That Darn Cat (1965), Haley Mills and Dean Jones had their hands full with a siamese.