Famous Pets from the Silver Screen

Needless to say, many of our favourite films simply would not be the same without a beloved pet. Our real-life affection for animals helps mold our experiences, and this is no less evident than in film.



Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin was rescued by an American soldier on a battlefield during World War I. He was taken to the United States where he became the most famous German Shepherd dog of all time. Rin Tin Tin starred in over 27 Hollywood films until his death in 1932. In 1929 Rin Tin Tin won the largest number of votes for the first Academy Award for Best Actor, but sadly the Oscar went to the second-place human. His acting career inspired several movies and a TV series bearing the name Rin-Tin-Tin. His fame also promoted the popularity of German Shepherd Dogs as household pets. 

Mr. Bigglesworth

Mr. Bigglesworth is the infamous cat of Dr. Evil in the James Bond spoof series, Austin Powers. He is actually played by two different cats of two different breeds!  In the first Austin Powers movie, Mr. Bigglesworth is played by a long-haired perfectly white Persian, a throw-back to the white cat that was always held by Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the James Bond series. After Mr. Bigglesworth experiences ‘feline complications’ after being cryogenically frozen, he is played by a champion hairless Sphinx named Ted Nude-Gent. Three Sphinx kittens were cast to play Mini Mr. Bigglesworth in the third Austin Powers movie. Sphinx cats are well known for their calm dispositions and are easily trained, thus making them expert actors.  

Benji

‘Benji’ was a smart mix-breed dog with soft brown eyes that melted the hearts of children and adults alike. He was played by several dogs over the span of 25 years in the Benji series. The first ‘Benji’ was played by a shelter dog named Higgins, trained by famous Hollywood animal trainer Frank Inn. Higgins went on to father many of the ‘Benjis’ that appear in subsequent films. 

Max, aka ‘Milo the Dog’

The feisty 5-year-old Jack Russell Terrier gave a brilliant performance alongside Jim Carrey in the 1993 crime comedy, The Mask. Jack Russell Terriers are smart and curious, evident in the scene where Milo tries on his master’s mask. A hard-working dog, Carrey reported that Max always hit his mark in every scene – earning his $2000 per week fee during filming. 



Orangey, aka ‘Cat’

Orangey is one of the most famous cats in the history of film. He was a male red tabby cat owned and trained by cinematic animal handler Frank Inn. Orangey had a little bit of a temper (as many red-heads do) and was known to occasionally bite or scratch actors. However, he was incredibly patient, spending hours on end in studio on the set. He is credited with numerous appearances in film and television during the 1950s and 1960s. Some of his most famous roles include ‘Cat’ in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Diary of Anne Frank.



‘Cujo’

One of the scariest psychological thrillers of all time, Stephen King’s Cujo was played by 5 different St. Bernard dogs and a human in a dog suit.  Despite the fact that ‘Cujo’ was obviously infected with Rabies, the St. Bernard breed became less popular after the release of the film. 

‘Beethoven’

Almost a decade after the release of Cujo, the St. Bernard breed was featured in a lighthearted family movie. The family classic portrays the adventure of a loving but mischievous St. Bernard named Beethoven. Beethoven was played by an actor named Chris, who won’t bite but might ‘slobber’ you to death! After the success of Beethoven, 6 other films were released featuring the loveable giant. 



‘Lassie’

The 1943 film Lassie Come Home was Lassie’s screen debut and a classic tale of a boy and his dog. ‘Lassie’ is a gorgeous female Collie who has stolen the hearts of millions in numerous films and in the iconic American television series. Over the years she has been played by several male Collies. Reportedly, a male was always cast as male Collies retain a thicker, fuller hair coat during the summer.

Spike, aka ‘Old Yeller’

This heart-wrenching 1957 Disney film stars a kind and courageous yellow Labrador/Mastiff actor named Spike. Spike played the character of ‘Old Yeller’ perfectly – a kind, warm family dog who risks everything to protect the family from a rabid wolf. Spike was rescued from a California animal shelter and appeared in other films, such as 1956’s The She-Creature. 



Tiki, aka ‘Sassy’

This gorgeous Himalayan cat let her personality shine as she played ‘Sassy’ in the popular 1993 family film Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. She stuck by her two dog co-stars and performed incredible feats such as removing porcupine quills with her teeth and braving the rapids of a raging river. 

Terry, aka ‘Toto’

Dorothy would have never run away from home if it had not been for Toto’s actions in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz. The Cairn Terrier actress was most famous for her role as ‘Toto’ but she appeared in more than 15 films. During the filming of The Wizard of Oz, she was stepped on and broke her foot. She spent a couple of weeks healing at Judy Garland’s house before returning to the set. She also starred as the character ‘Rags’ in the popular 1934 film Bright Eyes, alongside Shirley Temple. 



Beverly Hills Chihuahua 

This light-hearted dramatic comedy is about little Chloe, a pampered pup from Beverly Hills, who got lost while on holiday in Mexico. A pack of dogs of all different breeds was required for filming. Finding so many acceptable dog actors was a challenge, especially since Chihuahuas can be stubborn and difficult to train. However, with hard work and by the Magic of Hollywood, production was a success. 

Beasley, aka ‘Hooch’

Beasley was a Dogue de Bordeaux (also known as a French Mastiff) who co-starred with Tom Hanks in Turner and Hooch. He was a loveable character who caused mischief in the house and drank beer. Beasley lived an unusually long life for the breed, passing away at 14 years of age.

 

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