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.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bruno The Bear

Bruno was a black bear orphaned as a cub along with his brother Smokey in Lake White, Wisconsin. They were rescued and made there home at Africa, USA, an affection training animal compound in Los Angeles found by animal trainer Ralph Helfer and producer Ivan Tors.

Bruno made his film debut in 1965 in Zebra in the Kitchen.

Bruno's next film was Gentle Giant (1967) starring Clint Howard. Bruno won a PATSY award for his performance.

The success of Gentle Giant and the appeal of Bruno led to a televison series entitled Gentle Benn (1967-1969).

Although bears usually tend to be shy, Bruno was extremely friendly. In fact, Bruno's claim to fame was his gentleness.

Bruno tipped the scales at nearly 650 pounds. Bruno loved bread, carrots, apples and oranges. Bruno was also addicted to sweets especially soft drinks and doughnuts. He also had a passion for lemon drops.

Bruno's best friend was Mitzi (Flipper) and the two enjoyed swimming together.

Bruno was trained by Monty Cox. Cox's only complaint was that Bruno never stayed on his side of the bed.

In 1969, a flood destroyed the ranch. Bruno was found alive and safe two miles down the canyon but covered with mud and weighing a few pounds less. Another time, a runaway locomotive fell off its track and crushed Bruno's cage. Luckily, the bear had vacated the cage to go walking with his trainer.

Bruno was one spoiled bear.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Highland Dale aka Beauty

Highland Dale was a succesful animal actor who worked with Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Peter Graves, Anthony Quinn, Glenn Ford, Ward Bond and Rock Hudson.

Highland Dale was born on March 4, 1943 in Missouri.

Highland Dale was only 18 months old when he was discovered by Ralph McCutcheon a trainer of animal motion picture stars.

He was 26 months old when he made his film debut in Black Beauty (1946) at which time he was renamed Beauty.

His next film was Black Gold (1947). He went on to star in The Return of Wildfire (1948), Black Eagle (1948), The Return of October (1948), Lone Star (1952), Johnny Guitar (1954), Wild is the Wind (1957), and Giant (1956).

In 1955, he was cast as Fury in the television series of the same name. He appeared in 49 episodes from 1955 to 1961.

Beauty was trained on the reward system, with his favorite treat, carrots. His tricks included limping, kneeling, lying down, playing dead, grinning, fetching, untying knots, and opening doors with her mouth.

One of the top paid animal stars, Beauty earned $5000.00 a week.

Beauty passed away in 1972 of natural causes.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Nipper the RCA Dog

Nipper the Dog was the fox terrier mascot of the RCA Victor company seen in numerous commercials and print ads. Nipper was previously the symbol of the Gramophone Company, and later the Victor Talking Machine Company which became RCA Victor in 1929.

What many people don't know is Nipper was actually a real dog.

Nipper was born in 1884 in Bristol, England. He was found as a stray puppy. Nipper was a mutt, part bull terrier and a trace of fox terrier. He got the name because he like to nip the back of peoples legs, like puppies do.

His first owner, Mark Barraud, died in 1887, Nipper was taken to Liverpool by Mark's younger brother, Francis, who was a struggling painter.

Francis noticed one day that the fox terrier was listening intently, head cocked, to a cylinder phonograph he had playing in his studio, and Francis Barraud "often noticed how puzzled he was to make out where the voice came from."

Barraud commited this scene to memory, because it wasn't until three years after Nipper died, September of 1895, that he painted the scene of Nipper trying to make out where the sounds were originating from.

In 1898 Barraud completed the painting and registered it on 11 February 1899 as 'Dog looking at and listening to a Phonograph.'

Francis Barraud then decided to rename the painting 'His Master's Voice' and tried to exhibit it at the Royal Academy, but was turned down. He renamed the painting because "no one would know what the dog was doing" was given as the reason!"

Next on Francis Barraud's list was The Edison Bell Company, leading manufacturer of the cylinder phonograph, ((after did have their phonograph pictured) but again without success. "Dogs don't listen to phonographs," the company said.

Francis Barraud was given the advise to repaint the horn from black to gold, as this might better his opportunity for a sale. With this in mind, in the summer of 1899 he visited the newly formed Gramophone Company, with a photograph of his painting and a request to borrow a brass horn.

As Francis Barraud later wrote in an article for The Strand magazine: "The manager, Mr Barry Owen asked me if the picture was for sale and if I could introduce a machine of their own make, a Gramophone, instead of the one in the picture. I replied that the picture was for sale and that I could make the alteration if they would let me have an instrument to paint from."

The painting was purchased, and by the time of his death on August 29, 1924, Francis Barraud had been commissioned by the Gramophone and Victor companies to make 24 copies of his painting.

The painting made its first public appearance on The Gramophone Company's advertising literature in January 1900, and later on some novelty promotional items. However, 'His Master's Voice' did not feature on the Company's British letter headings until 1907. The painting and title were finally registered as a trademark in 1910.

Emile Berliner brought the painting to the United States, where it was used as his logo, until it was acquired by his successor in America, Eldridge Johnson, who formed the Victor Talking Machine Company, and became the owner of what would become the most famous trademark in the world, and make Nipper the most famous dog in the world.

In 1929, Radio Corporation of America (RCA) purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company. The company then became RCA-Victor. With Victor, RCA acquired New World rights to the famous Nipper trademark.

In 1991, Chipper who was added to the RCA family to be Nipper. Real dogs continue to play the roles of Nipper but have to be replaced frequently, since his character is a puppy.

Currently, the RCA trademark Nipper is owned by the French conglomerate Thomson SA through RCA Trademark Management S.A., a company owned by Thomson. The trademark is used by Sony Music Entertainment and Thomson SA, which licenses the name to other companies like Audiovox and TCL Corporation for products descended from that common ancestor.

Nipper passed away in September of 1895. His burial site, in a garden at Kingston-upon-Thames, in England, is marked with a plaque.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mitzi aka Flipper

Mitzi was born in 1958.

Underwater stuntman Ricou Browning was inspired to create the character of Flipper while watching another animal actor, Pal (aka Lassie) performing. Browning thought of doing something similar to Lassie but about a kid and a dolphin. Browning authored a book and then tried to sell the idea as a movie. He was turn down everywhere he went.

Ivan Tors, producer of Sea Hunt, loved the idea and Tors authorized Browning to find a dolphin for the role of Flipper.

Browning visited aquariums throughout Florida and across the United States in search of a dolphin to star in the film. Most of the dolphins Browning encountered swam away in fear when he entered the water with them.

Browning then heard about Milton Santini a dolphin supplier in the Florida Keys. Santini owned a pet dolphin named Mitzi who was more than willing to share her space of the pool with human beings.

Browning and Tors visited Santini. When Browning entered the pool, Mitzi swam right over to him and even allowed Browning to hold her in his arms. Browning had found his Flipper.

Browning moved to the Florida Keys with his nine year old son, Ricky and began training Mitzi for the required stunts.

Other trainers warned Browning it would take six months to a year to properly train Mitzi. However, Mitzi was a fast learning and quickly learned her stunts.

Mitzi could retrieve balls, sticks and just about any objectthat she was able to carry. She could tow a boat with a rope, hit the water with her tail, and shake hands.

Despite Mitzi's fast learning, she still could not do one important stunt, carrying a boy on her back.

Then Browning had a brilliant idea. What if he used the retrieving behavior to achieve the desired effect? Browning with the assistance of his son, he would pick up Ricky and order Mitzi to fetch. Browning then tossed Ricky into the water, Mitzi swam to grab him holding on to a strap on his clothes. Ricky then grabbed ahold and Mitzi brought him back to the dock.

Once Mitzi had learned all the required tricks and behaviors, filming began. Browning encountered another obstacle. Mitzi was afraid of the buzz made by the underwater cameras. Browning worked with her and Mitzi became acclimated to the sounds within days.

Mitzi appeared in both Flipper (1963) and Flipper's New Adventure (1964). However, when the movie was made into a television series, a different dolphin, Suzy was cast in the role of Flipper.

Mitzi died in 1972 at age fourteen. She is buried at the Dolphin Research Center, where her grave is the first stop on the center's public tours.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Peggy was born in Liberia in 1945.

Peggy made her film debut in 1948 in the film Jungle Jim starring Johnny Weissmuller and Virginia Grey playing Jungle Jim's faithful companion Tamba.

In 1951, Peggy was cast opposite Ronald Reagan in Bedtime for Bonzo. Professor Peter Boyd (Ronald Reagan) tries to teach a chimpanzee called Bonzo (played by Peggy) the concepts of right and wrong in an experiment regarding the merits of nature vs. nurture.

Peggy also appeared as herself on an episode of The Colgate Comedy Hour.

Peggy was very intelligent and had learned to obey 502 oral commands. Peggy was also a very talented chimpanzee. She could do flips in a crib, ride a tricycle, open doors, climb out windows, jump into and out of the back seat of an automobile, remove and replace a necktie.

Ronald Reagan once said that Peggy was a scene stealer, a joy to work with but very unpredictable. Peggy once grabbed Ronald Reagan's necktie and kept pulling almost strangling him.

Peggy was one of the highest paid animal actors in Hollywood, earning a weekly salary of $1000.

Peggy and Ronald Reagan were schedule to host the first PATSY awards in 1951, when tragedy struck.

The World Jungle Compound, where Peggy lived, a fire broke out. Peggy escaped the flames but was over come by smoke inhalation.

For 30 minutes, rescuers made a valiant attempt to resuscitate Peggy. Oxygen was administered and adrenaline was injected into her heart, all to no avail, Peggy died at the age of six.

Peggy's owner, Billy Richards, gave her body to chiropractor William H. Straughn of Sherman Oaks, who had trained at Los Angeles Chiropractic College in Glendale.

William Straughn donated the body to college anatomy professor and chiropractor Arthur Nilsson for use in comparative anatomy studies. It is said that Peggy's body “made an invaluable contribution to extensive research and study of comparative anatomy — a chimp with man."

After Nilsson’s research was completed in 1953, Peggy's skeleton was placed in a glass case in the college’s anatomical museum.