Rin Tin Tin, the German Shepherd Movie Star
Rin Tin Tin was born the stuff of fiction and heroics. He
was born in Lorraine, France at the end of WWI and at just
five days old his kennel was destroyed by bombs. The only
survivors were his mother and her pups.
An American soldier named Corporal Lee Duncan found the pups
and his battalion adopted the dogs. The breed was fairly
unfamiliar to Corporal Duncan, but he adopted for himself
two of the puppies, naming the female Nannette and the male
Rin Tin Tin, after two French puppets given to soldiers for
Having seen German Shepherd dogs perform their soldier dog
duties in Germany, he found the owner of the kennel and set
out to learn about the breed and to train his dogs to
perform like the others he had seen.
At the end of the war he was able to take his puppies back
to Los Angeles with him, but the female died of Distemper
shortly after their arrival, despite the efforts of Mrs.
Wanner, an American German Shepherd Dog breeder who tried to
Duncan took Rin Tin Tin to dog shows where the dog impressed
everyone with feats such as jumping nearly twelve feet in a
contest. Eventually Charles Jones, a man with a new movie
camera paid Duncan for the privilege of filming Rin Tin Tin,
and a star was born.
Duncan took Rin Tin Tin around to the Hollywood studios but
none were interested until they happened upon a studio
trying to film a scene that included a wolf. Duncan asked
them to let his gray shepherd play the part of the wolf and
because they were on the verge of closing for lack of money
and he promised that the dog could do the scene in one take,
they eventually agreed. The studio was Warner Brothers and
the movie was "Man From Hell's River."
The film was a box office success and Rin Tin Tin and his
son Junior (Rin Tin Tin II) went on to star in many
Hollywood movies. Rin Tin Tin was even named as the co-
respondent in divorce proceedings brought by Duncan's wife
at one point.
When Rin Tin Tin died, Duncan took him back to France, where
he was buried in a famous pet cemetery in Paris. Rin Tin
Tin's grandson, Rin Tin Tin III, and Duncan later trained
over five thousand dogs and their handlers for the war
effort during World War II.
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