News / USA

    'Rin Tin Tin' Recounts Dog's Rise to Stardom

    Animal became US star after rescue from French battlefield

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Rin Tin Tin, a dog rescued from a World War I battlefield in France, became a famous animal star and hero for generations of children.

    "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend" looks into the life of the dog that because a huge US star after being rescued from a French battlefield.
    "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend" looks into the life of the dog that because a huge US star after being rescued from a French battlefield.

    Susan Orlean, author of "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend," has vivid memories of the German Shepherd from her 1950s childhood, when the animal performed daring rescues on a television series.

    But as she prepared a magazine story on animals in film, she discovered a surprising fact about the canine actor.

    “What I had thought was a 1950s television character had been a real dog with an extraordinary life story,” Orlean says.

    She learned the real story began in 1918, when an American army corporal named Lee Duncan rescued two puppies from a bombed-out kennel in France. He named them Nanette and Rin Tin Tin, after the dolls French children gave American soldiers for good luck.



    After the war, Duncan brought the dogs back to his California home. Nanette died of pneumonia soon afterwards, while Rin Tin Tin settled in with Duncan.

    One of Duncan’s friends, who'd developed a slow-motion movie camera, filmed Rin Tin Tin making a spectacular leap over a three-and-a-half meter tall fence.

    Duncan's friend sold the film to the newsreel company, Novagraph, according to Orlean.

    Susan Orlean, author of the book "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend"
    Susan Orlean, author of the book "Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend"

    “Lee knew nothing about it," she says. "All he knew was that a few weeks after the dog show, he got a check in the mail from Novagraph for this footage of Rin Tin Tin. That was the moment where he thought, 'Wow, maybe there is something to this. Maybe my dog could be in movies.'”

    Rin Tin Tin broke into show business in 1922, playing the role of a wolf in the silent film "The Man from Hell’s River." He went on to star in more than two dozen films, earning a higher salary than his human costars.

    Like many stars of the silent film era, Rin Tin Tin’s career began to fade after talking films arrived in the late 1920s, but he and his descendants continued to perform in low-budget films and on radio. The TV shows Orlean watched as a child in the 1950s featured Rin Tin Tin II in a series set in the Old West.

    Rin Tin Tin also played a special role in World War II, when the U.S. War Department saw the need for a K-9 Corps and recruited dogs to carry messages, stand guard duty and sniff out landmines.

    “Where do you find 300,000 adult dogs? You turn to the public, and you ask them to donate their dogs," Orlean says. "So the dogs that participated in World War II were people's pets.”

    Rin Tin Tin became a mascot for the military effort.

    Orlean says animal heroes like Rin Tin Tin have something to teach us because they display virtues admired by people around the world.

    One of Rin Tin Tin's descendants serves as an ambassador for the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards, which honor dogs that help people in need.
    One of Rin Tin Tin's descendants serves as an ambassador for the American Humane Association's Hero Dog Awards, which honor dogs that help people in need.

    “Loyalty, bravery, sympathy, empathy and steadfastness that is appealing to people everywhere and doesn't have a kind of national identity. Rin Tin Tin was uniquely that way. He was a German breed of dog, born on a battlefield in France, but became a star in America.”

    And the most famous dog in the world.

    Rin Tin Tin sired at least 44 puppies and has thousands of descendents. A family in Texas is carrying on the legacy, by still breeding his offspring.

    Some of them perform and others have been trained for public service, including work as rescue dogs and therapy animals for children with autism.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora