Luke the Pitbull

The 1910’s were a time when “moving pictures” (a.k.a. motion pictures / movies) were gaining popularity. The films were silent but what they lacked in sound they made up for in acting and story lines. One genre that was gaining popularity was comedy (more precisely, “slapstick” and “physical” comedy). While Jean was mostly in drama and romance films and Strongheart was an action hero, the comedy world also had its rising star – Luke the Pitbull.


Roscoe’s wife, Minta Durfee was promised a “nice bonus” if she performed a rather risky stunt herself and she agreed. The director, Wilfred Lucas, did not lead on that he didn’t intend to pay her money. He told her to come to his house that evening for the bonus. Wilfred handed Roscoe a 6 week old pit bull puppy and, although quite disappointed that the bonus was not cash, Minta and Roscoe fell in love with the puppy and named it “Luke” after the director. By the age of 6 months Luke had become a full time member of Sennett’s Keystone . Eventually Luke was on the payroll and earned $150 a week (roughly a little over $3,300 a week today).

Luke was the side kick of the popular comedian Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle and co-starred in 11 films between 1915 and 1920. During his career Luke also performed with Al St. John and Buster Keaton. He died in 1926 at the age of 13.

Pit bulls are a popular breed of dog today and are recognized by many registries by different names. The United Kennel Club has them in the terrier group. According to the standard, males should be 18 to 21 inches at the shoulder and weigh 35-60 pounds and females should be between 17 to 20 inches at the shoulder and weigh about 30-50 pounds. They can look small but can be quite strong for their size. While the standards to not mention temperament, a true pit bull will be friendly and secure with its family and anywhere from aloof (or “standoffish”) to friendly to strangers and typically confident. Most standards have extreme-shyness and any aggressiveness as a disqualifying fault. Pit bulls are intelligent and can excel in many venues including carting, agility, tracking, and obedience.

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