He was later tabbed The Dog That Saved Hollywood — a bit of an over statement. But he certainly saved Warner Brothers.
He’s pictured above with his owner and trainer, Leland Duncan, who was an American sergeant who had discovered a German shepherd and her new litter of puppies in the wreckage of an airfield in France during the closing months of World War I.
He took two pups of the litter back with him to California; the one that survived the journey was named ‘Rinty.’
‘Rin Tin Tin’ the dog became a movie star, earned Duncan some five million dollars, saved Warner Bros. from one of their periodic descents into bankruptcy and made a name for a young screenwriter named Darryl Zanuck, wrote Zanuck biographer Mel Gussow. (In 1933, Zanuck decamped the studio after a salary dispute with Jack Warner, and co-founded Twentieth Century Fox.)
Zanuck developed a real rapport with the dog and was chiefly instrumental in guiding the canine’s career, dreaming up plots to exploit the Rin Tin Tin’s many facets.
Gussow quotes Zanuck: Rin Tin Tin could do anything.
No question that by 1929, Rin Tin Tin was a huge international star. There is a story that in that same year, the dog garnered the most votes for best actor Oscar. (The Academy nixed that idea, and decreed that only human stars could complete.)
Anyway, let’s see how much you known about this extraordinary canine. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.’