News / USA

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

Animal became US star after rescue from French battlefield

Multimedia

Audio
Mike O'Sullivan

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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid