Jack Russell terrier Moose spent 10 years on the set of "Frasier" playing Marty Crane's dog, Eddie. (When Moose retired in 2003, his son Enzo took over the role for the last year of the series.) Moose was known on set for being able to stare at "Frasier" star Kelsey Grammer for long periods of time, and at one point received more fan mail than any of his (human) co-stars. Moose and Enzo also played Skip in the 2000 movie "My Dog Skip" at different life stages.
It's hard to say whether to pinnacle of Buddy the Wonder Dog's career was playing the title role in "Air Bud" (1997) or acting alongside the Olsen twins as Comet in "Full House." Though his career was stellar, it unfortunately didn't have the happiest ending. He was diagnosed with cancer and had one of his hind legs amputated just after "Air Bud" wrapped shooting. Disney kept the diagnosis a secret until after the movie premiered to avoid worrying the movie's young audience, and Buddy the Wonder Dog passed away only a few months later.
Pal, the dog who played TV's Lassie, didn't start out as a star. In fact, he was initially turned down for the title role in "Lassie Come Home" because directors wanted a female. But it wasn't long before he started attracting attention. Soon after Pal signed on as a stunt dog for the first Lassie movie, directors took notice of his potential. They eventually released the female dog they'd selected to play Lassie, and Pal took over. He wound up signing a contract that was twice as large as his co-star Elizabeth Taylor's, and went on to star in six more Lassie movies and two Lassie TV pilots.
Though mutt Higgins didn't play his most famous role of Benji until he was 14 years old, it was far from his first on-screen appearance. After being adopted by trainer Frank Inn from an animal shelter at the age of 2, he starred in six seasons of "Petticoat Junction" and had cameos in "Green Acres" and "Beverly Hillbillies." The two were incredibly close—Inn wrote two poems for Higgins, and had the pup cremated when he died in 1975. Upon Inn's request, when he died 27 years later, Higgins' ashes were put in his coffin.
Pal the Wonder Dog, the pit bull who played Petey in the original "The Little Rascals" TV series, was born with a circle around one eye that was partially discolored. Instead of attempting to cover it up, producers decided to just use dye to complete the circle. When Pal the Wonder Dog died, his son—named Pete, of course—took over the role. Producers decided to continue the tradition by drawing on the entire circle—a custom that would continue in every future remake of "The Little Rascals."
Raised by the famous Weatherwax family of dog trainers, lab/mastiff mix Spike rose to fame for his title role in the movie "Old Yeller." He ran into a bit of trouble during the audition since his loving personality didn't seem in line with vicious nature Old Yeller could take on. Producers decided to give him a chance, though, and things (clearly) went pretty well. Spike had a long career in show business, starring in various other movies and shows before he retired. Rumor has it that he was buried at sea after he died.
After appearing in 27 Hollywood films, German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin was so famous that he transcended any one role. American soldier Lee Duncan found Rinty, as he nicknamed his pet, at an abandoned and destroyed dog kennel on the French battlefields of World War I. Author Susan Orlean, who wrote a history of Duncan and Rinty, argued that Rinty's massive success was thanks in part to the fact that he acted in the era of silent movies. That meant, after all, that his human costars couldn't use their words to upstage him.
Cairn terrier Terry had a career that most human actors would envy. Her first major film was "Bright Eyes," which she starred in alongside the biggest star of the era, Shirley Temple. That wasn't even close to Terry's peak, however. She went on to score the role of Toto in "The Wizard of Oz," allowing her to act alongside megastar Judy Garland in one of the most iconic American films of all time. Recently, a lifesize sculpture of Terry was erected at the Hollywood Forever cemetery.
Gidget, the chihuahua who played the dog in Taco Bell ads, somehow managed to become wildly famous while portraying a character who didn't even have a name. In the late '90s, her catchline of "Yo quiero Taco Bell" catapulted her to the sort of fame that allowed her to fly first-class and open the New York Stock Exchange. Though the Taco Bell campaign was canceled somewhat abruptly after claims that their commercials reinforced stereotypes about Hispanics, Gidget continued to find roles in films like "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blond."
Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier who starred as Jack alongside Jean Dujardin in the 2012 Best Picture "The Artist," came from humble beginnings to find dramatic success. As a puppy, he was about to be sent to the pound when by luck a successful animal trainer stepped in and adopted him. A decade later, he would become the first dog to join the Walk of Fame. He also inspired "Consider Uggie" campaigns, which urged movie awards bodies to nominate him for best actor, and eventually wound up onstage at the Academy Awards when his costar Dujardin accepted his own best actor award.
Just like the dog he played, yellow Labrador Clyde was a bit of a mischief maker on the set of "Marley and Me." One of Clyde's funniest moments in the film, in fact, was improvised when he went a little rogue during filming. In the middle of a scene, he lifted up a leg and began peeing all over a coffee table. Though the trainer got mad—urinating on set is a major taboo for dogs in drama—the director was thrilled. He thought the unexpected moment was so funny that he decided to write it into the movie.
Talk about a life well-lived! Moonie, the chihuahua who co-starred with Reese Witherspoon in "Legally Blonde," lived to the age of 18. He had famous friends, like the chihuahua Gidget—you know, from the Taco Bell commercials. He got invites to exclusive A-list events, like the unveiling of Reese Witherspoon's star on the walk of fame. And he got to wear some incredible pink outfits while filming "Legally Blonde."
Most human actors can only dream about getting a New York Times review like the one Frannie received for his work in the movie "Shiloh." The beagle was compared to Chief Dan George, and was referred to as "the kind of low-key 'real person' actor who conveys such intensity and specificity playing himself that the audience falls in love with pure behavior."
In what may come as a surprise if you've actually seen "There's Something About Mary," no dogs were harmed during the movie's filming. And, even though three fake dogs were used for Puffy's action scenes, a real dog did actually do the body cast scene. Border terrier Slammer wore a three-piece custom-fitted suit for about 10 seconds to get the classic shot.
Though Frank the Pug from "Men in Black" looked like … well … a pug, he was actually an extraterrestrial. (A Remoolian, to be exact.) In real life, Mushu the pug was, in fact, a pug. Mushu played Frank in the first two "Men in Black" films, though the crew needed makeup to cover up the gray hair that had begun growing on his face.
The story of a dog braving snow, ice and treacherous conditions to save a whole town from disease sounds like pure fiction, but it is indeed true! The animated film "Balto" greatly downplayed the severity of the tale, but it still delivered a heartwarming message. In 1925, the town of Nome, Alaska, was on the verge of a diphtheria outbreak with any available medicine more than 500 miles away in Anchorage. It was up to a team of sled dogs and their mushers to transport the precious cargo during an Alaskan winter via relay. Balto, a real-life sled dog, was the 3-year-old dog to run the last leg. His heroic return to Nome made him a living legend and inspired the film based on his tale. However, it's important to note that another dog, Togo, ran the longest and hardest route. In the end, it truly was a team effort!
Did you know that Disney's film about a pair of adorable pooches was based on real dogs? One of Disney's writers, Joe Grant, first showed Walt Disney sketches of his springer spaniel, Lady, in 1937 along with his story idea. Disney greenlit the idea, but after some initial story development, he scrapped the project. However, the project came back to life several years later. Tramp was a bit harder to pin down for inspiration, since the animators needed a mutt. In the end, one of Disney's writers found the perfect dog in the city pound. Disney ended up adopting the dog (who turned out to be female!), and she enjoyed a spoiled life in an area behind Disneyland, after, of course, acting as the source for "Tramp."
As the star of the film "Because of Winn-Dixie," the chosen dog needed to have the right look. The role ended up being split between five dogs, since the story was so focused on the part of Winn-Dixie. A Berger Picard, sometimes called a Picardy shepherd, was used. Trainer Mark Forbes worked with all five dogs on set to provide a seamless performance. The other part of the casting equation was that they needed a dog that looked like a mutt but was actually a purebred so that multiple dogs could fill the role without it being too noticeable onscreen.
"Beethoven" is all about a Saint Bernard who barrels his way into a family and into their hearts. This walking disaster of a dog makes his presence known in the Newton family with many accidents, but ultimately he earns his place. The dog behind "Beethoven" was named Kris, and he was just as big and wild as his character. The 200-pound Saint Bernard starred in the first two films of the franchise before going into "retirement." He lived out his days with trainer Teresa Miller's father.
Pluto is one of Mickey Mouse's best friends. Since his debut in 1930, Pluto has been by Mickey's side in one way or another. The famous dog has had many cartoon variations and been in countless films and comics throughout the years. This lovable canine was actually part of Walt Disney's real life! Disney based the idea of Pluto on his own childhood memories of dogs he met while growing up on a farm in Marceline, Missouri.
Max, the Jack Russell Terrier, got his big break when he was cast in "The Mask." The 1994 film had a very prominent part for the dog, and he even arrived at the premiere in a limo! Max took on the role of Milo and got along well with his scene partner, Jim Carrey. Max almost lost his part to a Corgi or a Scottie also being considered, but ultimately the director, Chuck Russell, liked Max's energy the best. Now it's hard to imagine "The Mask" without the adorable Milo upstaging Jim Carrey!
Duke was instantly loved when he first started appearing in Bush's Beans commercials in 1996 with family member and spokesman Jay Bush. Several different dogs have played the role of Duke over the years as Jay continues to share his family's secret recipe with the golden retriever. One of his portrayers, Sam (pictured), recently passed away. When Sam's owners shared the news of his passing on Facebook, the post went viral. Bush's Beans released a statement praising the work that Sam had done onscreen with his counterpart, Jay.
Tom Hanks has said that making "Turner and Hooch" was one of the hardest times he's ever had as an actor. The filmmakers apparently let the dog who played Hooch do what he wanted during a scene and then filmed Hanks reacting to it. While there were several different "Hooches," the main one was a 17-month-old Dogue de Bordeaux named Beasley. This dog was a star on set and even had it written into his contract that he would be transported on his own Learjet. Lucky dog, indeed!
Einstein was perhaps one of the first dogs to travel through time in a movie! This lovely dog was a mixed breed, which some believe included a sheepdog due to all that shaggy fur. In the first "Back to the Future," Einstein was played by a dog named Tiger. When it was time for the second film to begin shooting, Tiger was too old to resume his role. Trainer Richard Calkins, who had worked with Tiger in the first film, brought in a similar-looking dog named Freddie instead.
Chance, Shadow and Sassy were three animals who found their way home after a long and incredible journey in the film "Homeward Bound." In reality, this journey really did happen! Sheila Burnford wrote "The Incredible Journey," which was based on a true story of pets finding their way home in Canada. Chance was actually a golden retriever named Luath, and Shadow was a bull terrier named Bodger. And that fluffy female cat alongside the two dogs? That was actually a male Siamese cat named Tao! The trio's journey home was a heartbreaking tale with a wonderfully happy ending.
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