At the age of six weeks (a little early IMO) Captain Johnathan Archer had his trusty English Beagle, Porthos. In Season 1 Porthos was played by a male beagle named Prada, whom also played a beagle named Lou in the film Cats and Dogs (voiced by Toby Maguire). In later seasons two female beagles shared the honor, Breezy and Windy (although Porthos was always a male).
In one of the final episodes of Enterprise, “In a Mirror Darkly” (a “evil twin universe episode”), Porthos was replaced with a Rottweiler. While they tried to find a dog that would be a polar opposite to the Beagle (and Rotties do have that look), on set reports that the Rottweiler was even a bigger baby than the Beagle – writer Mike Sussman noted that he was “The sweetest dog I Have ever met”.
In the new Star Trek Film (2009) there is reference to Montgomery Scott having a “transporter accident” with Admiral Archer’s dog. I highly doubt it was the beloved beagle since he would have been over 70 years old when Scotty was born. 🙂
Jean, the Vitagraph Dog, was the first canine film star. Owned by Laurence Trimble (also owned Strongheart) where he ended up at the Vitagraph Studios to do a story for a local magazine on film making. His timing was perfect, he was there with his pet, Jean, when they needed a dog on the set to play opposite of Florence Turner
Jean became quite popular and was soon known as “the Vitagraph Dog”, starring in her own films along with “the Vitagraph Girl” all directed by Larry Trimble. One- and two-reelers with titles such as, Jean and the Calico Doll, Jean and the Waif, and Jean Goes Fishing were made by Trimble as their troupe filmed along the coastline in his native Maine.
Jean died in 1916.
Strongheart (Etzel Von Oeringen – Oct 1 1917 – June 24, 1929) is credited for being one of the first canine film stars. He was initially trained in Germany as a police dog he was later brought into the United States by film makers Laurence Trimble and Jane Murfin. Having successfully made the first film star dog, the Vitagraph Dog, Strongheart was able to appear in several films includng the 1925 adaptation of White Fang.
A popular celebrity in his day, Strongheart paved the way for the much better remembered Rin Tin Tin. Strongheart and his mate, Lady Jule, had many offspring and their line survives to this day. In 1929, while being filmed for a movie, Strongheart accidentally made contact with a hot studio light and was burned. These burns caused a tumor to form and Strongheart died as a result of it.
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The original Rin Tin Tin (B. September 10, 1918 – D. August 10, 1932) was found by an American serviceman, Lee Duncan, in a bombed out dog kennel in Lorraine, France (WWI) less then two months before the end of the war. He was named after a puppet, Rintintin, that was given to the servicemen as good luck.
He was first “discovered” by producer Charles Jones who was convinced he could easily become the next dog star. Rin Tin Tin’s first big break was in the 1922 film “The Man From Hell’s River ” where he played a wolf. Rinty would play a wolf of a wolf hybrid often in his career, even though he didn’t look like either. His first starring role was in 1923’s Where The North Begins, playing alongside silent screen actress Claire Adams. This film was a huge success and has often been credited with saving Warner Brothers from bankruptcy. It was followed by Shadows of the North (1923), Clash of the Wolves (1925), A Dog of the Regiment (1927), and Tiger Rose (1929).
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What dog actor site would be complete without Lassie? I don’t think there is another dog who has spawned off more TV shows, movies, and other publications than the popular collie. Not only that, there isn’t a more recognizable breed or individual animal other than Lassie (not including fictional animals like Mickey Mouse).
Author Erik Knight first created in the short story “Lassie Come Home” that was featured in the Saturday Evening post back in 1938. Two years later “Lassie Come Home” was a published novel. Only three years later, in 1943, it was made into a movie which became an instant hit (it was re-made in 2005 also). In 1945 a sequel came out, “The Son of Lassie” and the following year “The Courage of Lassie” came out.
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