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.