How much did you know about the most famous animal star?
Did you know that there were multiple versions of Rin Tin Tin? Mel Gussow in his biography of Rin Tin Tin mentor, Darryl Zanuck, observed:
Actually there were about five or six Rin Tin Tins at one time. One for long shots, one for close ups, one to play the gentle parts, one to fight. Another could jump and do terrific stunts. Another had marvelous eyes.
But the initial canine, pictured yesterday and today (above), set the template. Onscreen he could do anything, enthused Zanuck, then a Warner Bros. exec who went on to head up Twentieth Century Fox. The dark coated German shepherd, originally known as “Rinty,” made his movie debut in 1923, and within three years was considered the biggest box office attraction worldwide.
In her 2011 tome, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, author Susan Orlean notes that when Rinty passed away — on Aug. 10, 1932 — the nation was saddened at the news: death bulletins interrupted regular radio programming, and an hour-long memorial was broadcast nationwide.
One version of Rin Tin Tin’s demise had the canine expiring in the arms of Jean Harlow. Author Orlean says his passing was just like every other Hollywood death; much legend surrounding it.
Ok, now to the answers. Here we go:
1) Question: ‘Rinty” as ‘Rin Tin Tin’ had many canine stand-ins, and often never appeared in the movies that bore his name in the title. a) True; or b) False.
1) Answer: We could make the case that both a) and b) options are correct. But we lean to the former. As discussed above, there were several “versions” of Rin Tin Tin, although the original “Rinty” always appears in some fashion in his movies.
2) Question: Rin Tin Tin under a different name was the subject of a 1976 feature that included several classic Hollywood personalities in the cast. Can you name the title of this picture?
2) Answer: British director Michael Winner’s Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood. The 1976 movie is worth a look just for the boatload of classic stars who make appearances: including Dennis Morgan, Virginia Mayo, Yvonne DeCarlo, Rory Calhoun, Ricardo Montalban, Jackie Coogan, Broderick Crawford, Joan Blondell and Dorothy Lamour.
3) Question: Which one of the following did NOT appear opposite Rin Tin Tin oscreen? a) Robert Blake; b) Jason Robards; c) Chester McFranklin; or d) W.C. Fields.
3) Answer: d) W.C. Fields, who is said to have originated the wisdom that actors should never work with children or animals.
4) Question: At the height of his fame, Rin Tin Tin was provided a private chef who prepared daily luncheons of tenderloin steak. a) True; or b) False.
4) Answer: a) True. Rin Tin Tin was a star, and entitled to his perks on and off the set.
5) Question: In addition to being an international hit on the screen — just seven years after making his debut –Rin Tin also became a big radio draw via his own show. What was the name of the program? a) ‘The Rin Tin Tin Hour’; b) ‘The Wonder Dog’; c) ‘Woof, Woof, Woof’; or d) ‘Tonight Show With Rin Tin Tin.’
5) Answer: Rin Tin Tin’s radio program was known as b) “The Wonder Dog.”