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.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Trigger, a golden palomino, was born in 1932 and originally named Golden Cloud.

Trigger was foaled at a small ranch in the San Diego area which was partly owned by Bing Crosby. At the age of 3, Trigger was sold to the Hudkins Stables which rented horses to the movie industry.

Trigger made his film debut in 1938 in The Adventures of Robin Hood where he was ridden by Olivia de Havilland.

In 1938, Roy Rogers was cast in the lead role for Under the Western Stars. Before filming, Hudkins Stables brought five horses for Roy to select from, the third horse he got on was a beautiful four year old golden palomino who handled smoothly and reacted quickly to whatever he was asked to do. This horse was Golden Cloud and a star was born.

Roy Rogers changed Golden Cloud's name to Trigger because he was "quick on the trigger."

Trigger knew 60 tricks and could walk 150 steps on his hind legs.

Roy was proud of the fact that throughout his more than 80 films, the 101 episodes of his television series, and countless personal appearances, Trigger never fell.

In 1943, Roy Rogers would officially purchase Trigger for $2500.00.

The two of them appeared in dozens of westerns in the 1930s and 40s, always chasing and thwarting the bad guys, and working to serve peace and justice.

Trigger even shared the movie title with Roy on two occasions: My Pal Trigger (1946) and Trigger Jr. (1950).

Trigger's last film was Alias Jesse James (1959).

Trigger won a Patsy award for the role in Son of Paleface (1952) and the 1958 Craven award.

Trigger was so popular he had his own fan club with members from all over the world.

Trigger even had his own Dell comic book series.

Trigger has more television and movie credits than any other animal actor, just shy of 200 credits.

Trigger also made frequent public appearances. During World War II, he toured with Roy with the USO and they performed for the men and women in uniform. As soon as Roy Rogers completed a movie, he would hit the road with Trigger, traveling all over the country appearing in theaters, stage shows, fairs and rodeos.

Early on, the fans demanded to see Trigger and Roy realized that all the movie making and traveling were too much for one horse, so Roy acquired Little Trigger. Little Trigger looked alot like Trigger except that he had four white stockings at was not quite as tall.

Fans who saw Trigger during the early and mid 1940s saw Trigger (the original). However, fans that saw public appearances in the late 1940s and 1950s most likely saw Little Trigger.

Little Trigger appeared in Don't Fence Me In (1946), Heldorado (1946), and Son of Paleface (1952) as a relief for Trigger. Trigger was also in these movies but when Trigger needed a rest from shooting, Little Trigger was used in some scences.

Trigger died on July 3, 1965 at the age of 33. Originally he was put on display at the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum in Victorville, California but has since been relocated to Branson, Missouri.

Teddy the Dog

Teddy the Dog appeared in more than 40 silent movies.

Teddy the Dog also known as Teddy the Wonder Dog and Keystone Teddy appeared in move than 40 silent movies from 1913 to 1914.

Teddy was arguably the first canine superstar of the American cinema, he was a fawn or lightly marked brindle Great Dane .

The popularity of Teddy was such that he became one of Mack Sennett's highest paid "actors," commanding the sterling salary of $350 a week.

He performed with some of the top stars at the studio, including Baby Peggy, Slim Summerville, Mary Pickford, and Chester Conklin.

Teddy made his debut in A Little Hero (1913) and was a frequent co-star of Pepper the Cat and Ben Turbin.

Ben Turbin and Teddy appeared in fifteen films together including Are Waitresses Safe (1917), Whose Little Wife Are You (1918), His Smothered Love (1918) and Pitfalls of a Big City (1932).

Pepper and Teddy appeared in seven movies together: The Little Hero (1913), Friend Husband (1928), Rip & Stitch (1919), Reilly's Wash Day (1919), Trying to Get Along (1919), Back to the Kitchen (1919), and On a Summer Day (1921).

Teddy's most famous movies was Teddy at the Throttle (1917) starring Gloria Swanson and Wallace Beery. In this movie Teddy sang with Gloria, danced with her maid, and saved her by stopping a train, thus enabling her to be reunited with her true love.

Teddy's films credits include A Dog Catcher's Love (1917), The Sultan's Wife (1917), The Summer Girls (1918), Uncle Tom Without a Cabin (1919), Teddy's Goat (1921), Get Rich Quick Peggy, (1921) and Bow Wow (1922).

Teddy's final film was The Hollywood Kid (1924).

Pepper the Cat

Pepper the Cat was the first feline movie star.

Pepper was born under a sound stage in 1912 and as a kitten wondered onto the set of one of Max Sennet's silent Keystone Cop films. Max liked what he saw and a star was born.

She appeared with the Keystone Cops 1912 to 1913 in uncredited roles.

Pepper's first credit role was in 1913 in A Litte Hero.

She could learn to do tricks and was a very smart cat even play checkers. She appears in a scene with Ben Turpin playing checkers. They appeared in six movies together: Whose Little Wife are You (1918), When Love is Blind (1919), Trying to Get Along (1919), The Quack Doctor (1920), The Dentist (1919), and Are Waitresses Safe? (1917).

She frequently appeared with Marie Prevost. They appeared together in His Hidden Purpose (1918), Never Too Old (1919), When Love is Blind (1919), The Dentish (1919).

She also worked with Carole Lombard in The Girl from Everywhere (1927).

Pepper's most famous co-star was Teddy the Dog. They appeared in seven movies together: The Little Hero (1913), Friend Husband (1928), Rip & Stitch (1919), Reilly's Wash Day (1919), Trying to Get Along (1919), Back to the Kitchen (1919), and On a Summer Day (1921).

Pepper's movie career lasted 16 years until her death in 1928. Her total number of movies is unknown as she did not receive credit for several of her early roles. She did earn 17 credited roles to her name. Her final role was Love at First Flight (1928).

Pete the Pup

This tribute actually salutes two dogs, Pal and his son Lucenay's Peter (aka Petey). Both were American Staffordshire Terrier (Pitbull) and best known for playing Pete the Dog in the Our Gang comedy shorts.

Both dogs were trained and owned by Harry Luecenay and would star in a total of 61 movies.

Pal was born in 1925 and made his first film appearnce was in The Freshman (1925) when he was six months old.

Pal next landed the role in the 1920s Buster Brown series playing the role of Tige.

Pal's next big feature was playing Pete the Dog on the Hal Roach Our Gang comedy series. Pal originated the role in the film Spook Spoofing (1928). Pal's last film was A Tough Winter (1930).

Pal suffered an untimely death in 1930 when he was poisoned by an unknown assailant, probably by someone with a grudge against Harry Lucenay. The Our Gang kids were inconsolable upon learning of Pete's death.

Luecenay Peter (Petey) born September 6, 1929, would carrying on his father's role as Pete the Dog in the Our Gang comedy shorts. His debut being in Pups is Pups (1930). His last Our Gang film being The Pooch (1932).

Petey also was featured in his dad's place in several Buster Brown silent movies.

Harry Luecenay was fired from the Our Gang series and a series of look a like dogs appeared in the Our Gang comedy shorts until 1938.

After leaving Our Gang, Luecenay Peter went to New York and appeared in the Fatty Arbuckle short "Buzzin' Around" and in Paramount's "Broadway Highlights" newsreel, in which he is seen drinking a mug of beer as his initiation into The Lambs Club. In 1936, he once again joined Our Gang, but only for a personal appearance tour.

The circle around Pal's and Petey's eye, was not entirely natural. They both were born with a three quarters ring (a natural skin coloration was such an oddity that it became certified by Ripley's Believe It or Not) and the remainder of the ring was completed by make up artist Max Factor.

You may have noticed the circle often migrates between the left and right eye but that is because look a likes were used for stunts and in later films after Petey left the series.

Both Pal and Petey were the second highest paid Our Gang actors, earning $125.00 per week, second only to Farina (Allen Hoskins).

Luecenay Peter died in 1946, when Lucenay was 18 years old.

"He was a gentle, playful and warm dog. He would sleep at the foot of my bed. He was just the regular family dog. I really miss him." Harry Lucenary (About Petey).

Terry aka Toto

Terry was born in 1933, she was a terrier whose most famous movie role was as Toto in the Wizard of Oz (1939). Although she appeared in thirteen movies, her only official movie credit was in the Wizard of Oz.

Terry's name was officially changed to Toto in 1942.

She was trained and owned by Carl Spitz. Carl Spitz established in the Hollywood Dog Training School in 1927

As part of her training for her role in the Wizard of Oz, she spent two weeks at Judy Garland's residence and Garland became quite attached to Terry and even wanted to adopt her, but Spitz refused.

Her salary for Wizard of Oz was $125 a week, which was more than many human actors in the film.

She attended the premiere of The Wizard of Oz at the Grauman's Chinese Theater.

During the filming of The Wizard of Oz, she suffered a broken foot when on oth the witch's guards accidentally stepped on her.

She was also afraid of the powerful wind machines used on the set of The Wizard of Oz.

Terry's first film appearance was in Ready for Love (1934) starring Ida Lupino.

Terry's next film was with Shirley Temple in Bright Eyes (1934) in which Terry played Rags.

Terry's other film credits are:

The Dark Angel (1935)

Fury (1936) as Rainbow

The Buccaneer (1938) as Landlubber

Stablemates (1938)

The Women (1939) as the fighting dog in the beauty shop.

Bad Little Angel (1939)

Calling Philo Vance (1940) as McTavish

Cinderalla's Feller (1940) as Rex the dog.

Twin Beds (1942)

George Washington Slept Here (1942)

In 2001, her autobiography "I Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, the Dog who was Toto" by Willard Carroll was released. This book is still available in most stores and on amazon. Willard Carroll had unearthed a leather-bound scrapbook containing Spitz's personal archive of Terry's life and work which was used to become the autobiography.

Carl Spitz retired Terry from cinema in 1942, and she became a beloved family pet, making appearances at numerous events, state fairs and animal shows until her death in 1944.

Terry died in 1944 and was buried in a pet burial area behind the Spitz's residence and kennel. However, During the expansion of the Ventura Freeway in Los Angeles, the property was obtained by Caltrans for construction purposes. The facility and the small burial grounds were razed.

Molly, Francis the Talking Mule

Before there was Mister Ed in the 1960s, there was Francis the Talking Mule.

Francis became a celebrity in the 1950s when the character was the star of seven movies.

Although Francis was a male in the movies, he was actually played by a female named Molly. A female was selected because she was easy to handle.

Francis (Molly) was trained by Les Hilton and Will Rogers. Les Hilton would go on to train Mister Ed.

Francis the talking mule was based on a popular book by David Stern about a military man who meets a mule who can talk.

Universal Studios bought the rights for a film series, with David Stern adapting his own script for the first movie, simply titled Francis (1950). According to author Pauline Bartel, Universal paid $350 for the animal, but made millions from the film series.

The book and series focused on the exploits of Francis, an experienced Army mule, and Peter Stirling, the young soldier whom he befriends and stays with through civilian life and then back into the military. Donald's O'Connor originally played Peter Stirling and would appear in six of the films.

The seven films featuring Molly was Francis the Talking Mule are:

Francis (1950)

Francis Goes to the Races (1951)

Francis Goes to West Point (1952)

Francis Covers the Big Town (1953)

Francis Joins the WACS (1954)

Francis in the Navy (1955)

Francis in the Haunted House (1956)

As the titles indicated, each film had a different setting or gimmick, exposing the wordly-wise mule and the naive GI to race track excitement, the world of journalism, and many branches of the military, from West Point to the Navy. However, only Peter Stirling, could hear Francis talk which would provide for a comedy of errors for Francis' Master.

The distinctive voice of Francis was provided by veteran character actor Chill Wills. Wills lent his deep, rough vocal texture and Western twang to the cynical and sardonic mule. As was customary at the time, Wills never received billing for his vocal work, he provided the voice in six of the films and for the one televison appearnce by Francis (Molly).

Arthur Lubin, the producer of the movies, later went on to create the Mister Ed television series.

The same technical technique of teaching Francis (Molly) to move his mouth was later used on Mister Ed. Mules are very smart animals and will do what they are asked to do as long as you are kind and gentle with them. Les Hilton used a thread fed into the animal's mouth, which when tugged, would cause Francis (Molly) to try to remove it by moving her lips.

Francis the Talking Mule (Molly) also appeared on the television show What's My Line in an episode in 1952.

Francis the Talking Mule also became a popular comic book series.

Francis (Molly) was the very first recipient of the American Humane Association Annual Patsy award in 1950 taking first place in the Motion Pictures category.

In 1952, 1954, 1955, and 1956, Francis (Molly) would take the second place Patsy award in the Motion Pictures category. In 1957, Francis (Molly) would take third place in the Motion Pictures category.

Franics (Molly) received the Patsy Award of Excellence in 1953.

Francis (Molly) won a total of seven Patsy Awards, more than any other animal actor.


Orangey, a red tabby cat, was a talented animal actor owned and trained by the well-known cinematic animal handler Frank Inn.

Orangey had a career in film and television in the 1950s and early 1960s and was the only cat to win two Patsy Awards (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year, an animal actor's version of an Oscar).

Orangey won his first Patsy in his film debut for his title role in Rhubarb (1951), a story about a cat who inherits a fortune and a baseball team.

He won his second Patsy for his portrayal of "Cat", Audrey Hepburn's "poor slob without a name" in Breakfast at TIffany's (1961).

Other films that Orangey the Cat appeared in during his 15 year career, include This Island Earth (1955), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), Gigot (1962), The Comedy of Terrors (1964), and Village of The Giants (1965).

Orangey's longest gig was a recurring role as Minerva the Cat in the TV series "Our Miss Brooks" from 1952 through 1958.


Skippy was born in 1931 or 1932 (sources very). Skippy was a wire fox haired terrier who was trained by by his owners Henry East and Gale Henry East. His assistant trainers were Frank and Rudd Weatherwax and Frank Inn.

Skippy began his training when he was three months old, and he made his first professional appearance at the age of one year.

Skippy's break through role was as Asta in The Thin Man (1934) starring Myrna Loy and William Powell. In The Thin Man, he played the playful pet dog of Nick and Nora Charles, tugging them around town, hiding from danger and sniffing out corpses. Nick Charles said it best "Asta, you're not a terrier, you're a police dog." He also appeared in After the Thin Man (1936). Later Thin Man movies actually featured an Asta look-a-like as Skippy had retired.

Skippy was so popular as Asta, he is sometimes credited as Asta in his later movies.

Skippy's next big appearance was as "Mr. Smith" in the 1937 film The Awful Truth, where his character was the subject of a custody dispute between his owner's Lucy and Jack Warner (Cary Grant and Irene Dunne).

In Bringing Up Baby (1938), Skippy played "George," the bone hiding pup belonging to Susan (Katharine Hepburn) Aunt Elizabeth.

In 1938, Skippy played "Mr. Atlas" in Topper Takes a Trip which would be his last film appearance.

Skippy also was featured in The Lottery Lover (1935) as Pom Pom, It's A Small World (1935), Sea Racketeers (1937), and I Am The Law (1938).

Skippy was one of the highest paid canine actors of his era. At a time when most canine actors in Hollywood films earned $3.50 a day, Skippy's weekly salary was $250.00.

Skippy retired from the silver screen 1n 1939.