20 Fun Facts You Never Knew About Rin Tin Tin

In our world and our society today, there are so many different animals and pets that have made their way via social media, entertaining their way into the hearts of millions of people. With the likes of pets such as Grumpy Cat, Boo (the world’s cutest dog), and so many more, it can take a true champion to compete with all of the rest, and to stand the test of time as well, regardless of the generation when they make their debut. That is where we introduce and meet Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd who took over the entertainment industry back during the early 1900s. This playful pup won the hearts of many even before the days of social media and the Internet in general, and still makes a statement for so many even in this day in age.

In this article, we are going to count down twenty of the things that you probably never knew about Rin Tin Tin, and why he is still such an iconic figure and legendary dog today. With that said, let’s get to our count down, and see what this German Shepherd is really all about.

Here are 20 fun facts you didn’t know about Tin Tin:

He Was Rescued From The German Army

Rin Tin Tin was actually found when he was just a young pup with his litter (assumed to be just a week old at the time), which was found in a small French village called Flirey. The village had been bombed and taken siege by the Imperial German Army in 1918. Corporal Lee Duncan, who is a native French man, had been sent to the village to see if it would make a decent flying field for his unit at the time, when he discovered the damaged kennel where the litter had been located. He successfully got the litter and their mother out of the kennel and into safe arms. Once the pups were weaned from their mother, Corporal Duncan split up the mother and three of the pups from the litter to other soldiers, but kept one male and one female from the litter for himself, who he named Rin Tin Tin and Nanette. Unfortunately, Nanette passed away from pneumonia during the journey over to America. However, once he made it to the States, he found another German Shepherd female pup to bring home, who he named Nanette II.

He Has A Star On The Walk Of Fame

Although Rin Tin Tin lived way before our time, back in the early 1900s, he has still been giving many accolades throughout the years after his death, as we will discuss later in this article. One of those accolades that he received came on February 8th of 1960, when a ceremony was held to give Rin Tin Tin his own star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. His star can still be seen on the walk today, and is held dear to many of the hearts of his fans who remember him.

The Drive To A Film Career Came On Accident

The inspiration to get Rin Tin Tin in his acting career, or rather film career, came during a dog show in Los Angeles. A friend of Corporal Duncan who was at the show, Charley Jones, just happened to be filming the German Shepherd when he made his winning leap of almost twelve feet in the air with his slow motion camera. After seeing the footage being played back of the huge leap, he knew that Rin Tin Tin had potential to become the next great dog in the film industry. Who knew that it would help to spark the career of an awe inspiring German Shepherd?

Awards And Accolades Received

Rin Tin Tin received many awards during his lifetime for his achievements in the film industry. However, it seems that his most prominent has come later in life as the years have gone on. In 2011, the first annual American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards were held, and at those awards, Rin Tin Tin received the very first Hero Dog Legacy Award for his works and inspiration. A twelfth generation descendant of Rin Tin Tin was there to receive the award on his behalf.

He Had Broken His Leg Early In Life

Unfortunately, it happened in 1922, after Rin Tin Tin had performed in a dog show in Los Angeles, which he failed at miserably. Duncan was walking home Rin Tin Tin when out of nowhere, a newspaper truck accidently dumped a pile of newspapers on top of the German Shepherd. Although it may not seem dire, newspapers can be heavy when stacked and rolled into a large group. When the newspapers ended up landing on Rin Tin Tin, it snapped his left front leg. It took him nine months to fully recover from the break, with the help of Duncan nursing him back to health during that time. After that nine month time period, Rin Tin Tin was able to get back up on his feet and compete in dog shows in the Los Angeles area.

Controversy Regarding His Death

As we will discuss later in the article, Rin Tin Tin passed away in the fall of 1932. The death, obviously, struck the hearts of many all over the world, and also sparked a bit of controversy and rumor as well. There were many a magazine article that told untrue tales regarding his passing, including that he had died on the sets of films and during production projects. There were also rumors that he had passed in the arms of Jean Harlow, who was a silent film actress during the time, and also lived on the same street as Corporal Duncan and Rin Tin Tin. Of course, these were all fabrications, as Corporal Duncan released statements telling the true story of Rin Tin Tin’s death, which we will discuss later in the article.

His Successor

Although his death caused quite a stir for the nation and the world, Rin Tin Tin’s legacy still lived on in his son and successor, Rin Tin Tin Jr. Rin Tin Tin Jr. ended up being in a great amount of films throughout the 1930s, during the Great Depression era. Unfortunately, Rin Tin Tin Jr. ended up passing away in 1941 when he contracted pneumonia. The German Shepherd was only eight years old at the time of his passing. There was also a Rin Tin Tin III who took to starring in one film during his lifetime, which was called ‘The Return of Rin Tin Tin’. Although his acting career was short lived, he is credited for helping Corporal Duncan greatly in training a group of almost 5000 dogs to help with World War II efforts at the time.

He Began His Career Competing In Dog Shows

Corporal Lee Duncan saw the potential that a German Shepherd like Rin Tin Tin might have at dog shows with his looks and agility, and dedicated the early years of the pup’s life to teaching him a wide range of tricks. In 1922, Duncan became one of the founding members of the Shepherd Dog Club of California, and he put Rin Tin Tin in a couple of the dog shows that were put on by the club in Los Angeles. Although Rin Tin Tin did not win any of them due to slightly aggressive behavior, he still got the experience he needed to expand his career. He did however, has some good points in later shows that he participated in, which enabled Duncan to see Rin Tin Tin’s potential in the spotlight (mentioned previously in the article).

No Trademark

Rin Tin Tin’s owner, Corporal Lee Duncan, unfortunately passed away in September of 1960 without ever having trademarked Rin Tin Tin’s name and legacy. However, his legacy still has continued on; In fact, his distant descendants are still being bred and trained to act as service dogs to help others. This is all thanks to Jannettia Brodsgaard Propps, who had purchased several of the puppies that were bred by Duncan throughout the years of Rin Tin Tin’s life. There has even been a bit of controversy surrounding the trademark issue, especially when it has come to recent films being created about the German Shepherd; However, in those cases, the majority of judges will side with filmmakers and alike, as the trademark does not exist to protect the rights of the original Rin Tin Tin.

He Received A Key To The City

It takes a great legend to earn many rewards and accolades during their lifetime, even when it comes to famous pets. Once he began to make many appearances and projects within the film and entertainment industry, Rin Tin Tin became a nationwide sensation. With his multiple successful blockbusters and silent films, Rin Tin Tin was most certainly making a name for himself. In fact, at one point, Mayor Jimmy Walker of New York gave Rin Tin Tin the key to the city. It was most certainly a great honor for the German Shepherd and his owner, even though the pair resided all the way across the country in California.

National And International Response To Death

When Rin Tin Tin passed away in the fall of 1932, there was an uproar both nationally and internationally as well. Many of the television and radio programs that were popular during the time played stories about the German Shepherd and his long life and legacy in the industry. He also had many different newspaper and magazine articles written depicting his life and the great success that he had, inspiring so many people all over the world. However, mixed in with those obituary reports and stories were rumors and speculations regarding the death of the famed German Shepherd, as we mentioned previously in this article.

His Career Began With Pleading … Literally

After a few failed attempts in dog shows, and a little bit of inspiration from his winning jump, Corporal Duncan tried with all his might to get someone to put his pup into some type of film or project in the entertainment industry. The pair would walk up and down Poverty Row during those months after the last dog show, asking whoever they could find to stop and see if they could find a project that would fit Rin Tin Tin, regardless of what it would entail. However, this begging and pleading didn’t take long, and Rin Tin Tin began making his film career a reality just a few short months later with his first minor role.

Twenty Seven Films In All

Rin Tin Tin went on to create and star in a total of twenty seven films during his fourteen year life, the majority of which were produced by Warner Brothers Studios during that time period. This was not only limited to silent films, but also included four films with sound, as well as some radio programs for audiences to listen to and even a television series. His films also expanded past the realm of just the United States, as back during that time, it was quite easy to translate the subtitles of the silent films into several different languages to expand their exposure. This helped to also expand his popularity all throughout the world, including his huge following that was had in Berlin, Germany. It was even found that he was written about in Anne Frank’s diary during that time. Nevertheless, he was indeed a dog of many trades and talents, so to speak, and was able to have an legendary career in the entertainment industry through several different facets.

Copy Cats

Of course, with the amount of publicity that Rin Tin Tin was receiving, it is common that there would be copy cats that try to take his thunder. This came in the form of Ace the Wonder Dog, who was part of RKO’s production company. Ace the Wonder Dog was also a German Shepherd, but he didn’t have quite as much tenacity and spark as that of Rin Tin Tin. Even after his death, many dogs attempted to take the place of Rin Tin Tin, including his descendants; However, they didn’t hold quite as much merit or inspiration as that of the original German Shepherd that won the hearts of so many.

The Legacy Goes On

Even after death, Rin Tin Tin has still found a variety of ways to make it into the hearts and minds of generations to come afterwards. He became the focal point of many different fictional and children books, as well as some films that were inspired by him also. There has been some controversy regarding a few of these projects when it came to trademark issues and depictions, but nothing substantial came from them in any case. Although none of the later projects were as famed as that of his original productions, they still tug on the heart strings of individuals all over the world who find the German Shepherd timeless and inspiring.

A Bit Of Tight Casting During His Career

When Rin Tin Tin received his very first film debut role, which was in the film entitled ‘The Man From Hell’s River’ which was released in 1922. He took the place of a wolf in the film, as the wolf they had been using initially was not cooperating with the film crew during production. It worked easier for the crew to use Rin Tin Tin, as he clearly followed Corporal Duncan’s commands and guidance while filming. This first debut role led to many more roles where he was cast as a wolf or even a wolf hybrid for the movie, as it was realized how much easier it was to work with a trained dog as opposed to the real thing. However, there were a few films in which Rin Tin Tin was cast as a domesticated dog, such as that of the 1922 film ‘My dad’. Whatever the case, Rin Tin Tin’s roles were able to boost him in the entertainment industry during the time, and led to a world wide following all throughout his life.

His First Real Role

Although he had those minor roles in a couple of films that were released in 1922, Rin Tin Tin didn’t have his real starring role in a film until the year 1923. The silent film was entitled ‘Where The North Begins’, and he starred along popular silent film actress Claire Adams. The film ended up being quite successful, and is often known for saving the Warner Brothers studio from having to file bankruptcy and leaving the business. This led to many more starring roles, and furthered his career, especially when it came to Warner Brothers productions. It also led to a serial role, which ended up being one of the last projects that he took part in before his death in 1932.

Rin Tin Tin’s Offspring

Of course, Corporal Duncan sought the opportunity to breed Rin Tin Tin with his other female German Shepherd that he had, Nanette II, with all of the talent that was had. Together, the two dogs had a total of forty eight puppies, in which Duncan decided to keep two of them, and either sell the rest or simply give them away as gifts to family members and friends. Some of the individuals who bought a few of Duncan’s and Rin Tin Tin’s puppies included that of W. K. Kellogg, Greta Garbo, and also Jean Harlow. Although it is a bit of a slim chance, some of Rin Tin Tin’s descendants are still bred and can be purchased today, even though it might not be as much of a direct line anymore.

Endorsement Deals

As his success in the entertainment industry continued to rise, Rin Tin Tin and Duncan were approached with several endorsement deals that included the German Shepherd. Some of the ads which sought for the endorsement deals included that of Ken L Ration, Ken L Biskit, and Pup E Crumbles. He also took the time to allow Warner Brothers to hand out ‘signed’ photographs of the pooch, which included his paw print and a message that stated ‘Most Faithfully, Rin Tin Tin’. These endorsement deals and other publicity only increased the popularity of Rin Tin Tin, especially abroad, and allowed for audiences everywhere to be able to see and hear their favorite dog during that era.

Death That Shocked The World

Rin Tin Tin passed away on August 10 of 1932, when the German Shepherd was fourteen years old. Corporal Duncan wrote about the passing in his unpublished memoir, in which he described the event in excruciating detail. He said to have heard Rin Tin Tin make an unusual barking sound that was uncharacteristic for him, and when Duncan walked around their house in California, he found the dog lying on the ground. He was originally buried in the backyard of the home where they lived in Los Angeles; However, Duncan did not own the home, and when he had to leave because of the Great Depression and several different financial reasons that spurred because of it, he decided to have the dog taken out of the ground and brought back with him to his home country of France. Rin Tin Tin now rests in a pet cemetery in a Parisian suburb called Asineres-sure-Seine.

In any case, Rin Tin Tin is one of the most iconic animal figures that we have seen in the past one hundred years. From his many silent films, sound films, radio programs, and television series, it is clear that he was a dog of many talents. In fact, his legacy continues on still today in the form of books, movies, documentaries, and many other outlets that allow younger generations to see what Rin Tin Tin had to offer. Although he was just a German Shepherd, he was able to make a legacy that stands the test of time, and allows him to carry on that legendary story. We hope that you have enjoyed our count down of twenty things that you might not have known about Rin Tin Tin, and why he is such a prominent figure in the entertainment industry for so many people and businesses as well.


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