In case you didn’t hear, Warner Brothers was in Pittsburgh filming segments for the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Did you know that Warner Brothers began their entertainment empire with an old projector showing films in Pennsylvania and Ohio mining towns? The four brothers opened their first movie theater in New Castle in 1903 and established Duquesne Amusement and Supply in Pittsburgh to distribute films. By the start of World War I they were producing films and in 1918 opened Warner Brothers studio on Sunset Boulevard. But considering how powerful and popular the Warner Brothers company is today, would you believe that they were once saved from bankruptcy by a dog?
Rin Tin Tin is a famous name among movie fans and dog lovers alike. It refers to a dog in pop culture recognized as a hero in his own right, saving himself and his friends from dastardly villains. The name is actually the name of several
German Sheppard dogs, all of which were featured in film, radio, and commercials during the ‘20s and ‘30s – and the name even continues to live on today.
The first dog in the line of Rin Tin Tin’s was actually a shell-shocked puppy found in a bombed dog kennel in France during World War I! He was named Rin Tin Tin after the puppets French children gave to American soldiers for good luck. Nicknamed Rinty, soldier and owner Lee Duncan soon realized he had a talented dog who could learn impressive tricks and jump extremely high. The dog went into show business, where he caught the eye of film producers.Duncansoon began to believe that his dog was even more of a star than he knew!
Rinty’s first screen role was actually a step-in role where he replaced a wolf in The Man from Hell’s River (1922). This was not the last time the dog stepped in to take on the role of a dangerous wolf in a film, but no one ever really believed that the German Sheppard on the screen was really a wolf! But it was in 1923 that the dog first appeared in a starring role in the film Where the North Begins, a popular film that supposedly saved Warner Brother’s from going out of business.
From then on, Rinty went on to become the star of multiple silent films, as well as the star of four sound motion pictures. He and his descendants also went on to become radio stars through the 1950s, including The Wonder Dog (later renamed Rin Tin Tin).
Rinty himself passed away in 1932 at the age of 14. The dog was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The focus shifted to Rin Tin Tin Jr., who appeared in multiple films in the 1930s and took over the voice of Rinty on his radio shows.
Through the years Rin Tin Tin family members remained stars and well-loved among movie and animal fans. Upon Lee Duncan’s death in 1960, the breeding of the dog line continued withDuncan’s endorsement straight up through the present!
Today the current Rin Tin Tin is tenth in a line of beloved dogs. He actually makes personal appearances across the country to promote responsible pet ownership. Rin Tin Tin remains a famous and favorite figure today, complete with a website, Facebook and Twitter page for fans to gather! Other dogs in the bloodline are even trained as service dogs and provide assistance to special needs children. This is one dog who’s left – and is still leaving – quite an impression on our hearts.
By Larissa Gula