The “Roaring 20’s” was a period in the USA’s history where the economy was booming more than it had ever in the history of the USA and quite possibly of the world. “The Great War” was over and Europe was on the road to recovery while the USA was isolated enough from the war that it was able to continue on with the new advances the war brought. With good times, people want to be entertained and this decade “moving pictures” really took off. Films were no longer short films (10-20 minutes) but actual films (60+ minutes) and a new form of moving picture called a “talkie” (movie with sound) was emerging thus solidifying the moving picture’s place in modern society.
I made this little video as a dedication to the pioneers to dog acting. The video consists of clips of Jean (a.k.a. the Vitagraph Dog (border collie), Strongheart (German Shepherd in the higher quality black & white films), and the original Rin Tin Tin (German Shepherd, lower quality black and white as well as sepia colored film clips). The second dog (lighter colored) in the Rin Tin Tin clips is Nanette II.
Around the age of 19 Laurence Trimble moved to New York City with his trusty companion, Jean (a border collie) to start a career as a reporter. During 1908 he sold an animal based story to a New York City based magazine. The magazine then hired him to write an article about the new “motion picture” industry that was growing, mainly about the Vitagraph company. The decision to bring his dog would literally set the stage for animal actors.
While writing his story the studio needed a dog to play opposite Florence Turner (“the Vitagraph girl”) and Laurence volunteered Jean to play the role. The relationships went so well that Vitagraph that they asked Laurence to sign on as Vitagraph’s leading canine star. Laurence stayed on as a director for several films from 1908 on including 18 films starring Jean. The audiences loved Jean and thus the first canine movie star was born. Continue reading