Today: June 20, 2024

Top Doggy Film Stars

To celebrate the release of Pudsey The Dog: The Movie, out on DVD from 10th November 2014, we take a look at the all time top doggy film stars, and how they wagged their way to screen success.

Toto, The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Dorothy Gale’s much loved and loyal pet dog Toto is the only animal in the film that doesn’t speak. In this original film, Toto was actually played by a female Terrier whose real name was Terry. Terry was in fact, paid more than many of the human actors for her part, receiving $125 a week while other below the line talent reportedly received just $50 to $100 a week, Another lesser-known fact is that, due to the popularity of the movie and how famous her role became, her owner and trainer officially changed Terry’s name to Toto in real life. A permanent memorial for Toto can be found at the Hollywood Forever cemetery in Los Angeles.

Lady And The Tramp (1955)
This animated romantic comedy starring two dogs from different classes of life won hearts the world over. In 1937, Joe Grant, a story man at Disney Studio came up with the idea, inspired by the antics of his own Spaniel dog, Lady, and how she was overshadowed by his new baby. Joe created some sketches and approached Walt Disney with the idea but Walt thought Lady was too sweet and therefore the storyline would not have enough action. Soon after, Walt was reading a short story by Ward Greene about a cynical dog. This led Walt to deciding to incorporate Tramp into the story and Lady And The Tramp was born.

Beethoven (1992)
The large mutt with the larger heart featured in seven Beethoven films to date. Chris, the dog who played Beethoven, was actually trained by Karl Lewis Miller, the famous animal trainer who has also trained K-9 and Babe. Beethoven the dog has such a successful impact in America that a lot of young people thought the reason the name Beethoven was famous was because of this dog and film!

Milo, The Mask (1994)
Stanley Ipkiss’ partner in crime and cute pet doggy, Milo is unforgettable in The Mask. The brown and white Jack Russell Terrier is never not at Stanley’s side and even has a chance encounter with the Mask of Loki himself! Animal actor Max McCarter was five- years-old when he auditioned for the role of Milo. Director Chuck Russell found Max to be “the most perky and alive” of all the candidates. Max actually nearly lost the role when it was revealed that another upcoming film was going to feature a Jack Russell so the producers debated about using the same breed of dog, however, Max’s personality and acting ability won out.

Bullseye, Oliver Twist (1948)
Bill Sikes’ feared and furried pet, Bullseye the bull terrier has, “faults of temper in common with his owner”, and is almost seen as the animal version of Bill himself. Lucy Fox, the granddaughter of the Director Sir Carol Reed, said in 2008, “When I first saw the film, I was worried the dog had not had a happy time because he seemed so tatty and unloved – but in reality he turned out to be highly-trained and very well looked after. He spent a lot of time in make-up to look so battered.”

Pongo & Perdita, 101 Dalmatians (1961)
Pongo and Perdita are the legendary parents to fifteen Dalmatian puppies and adoptive parents to eighty four more in this much loved film. When the evil Cruella De Vil sets her eyes on turning the puppies into fur coats, Pongo and Perdita do everything in their power to rescue the young pups. After the very expensive Disney cartoon Sleeping Beauty failed at the box office, there was talk of closing down the animation department at the Disney but an animation experiment at the time meant that putting spots on all the dogs would only cost half of what it would have and the rest is history.

Fang, Harry Potter (2001)
The loveable half-giant gamekeeper in Harry Potter, Rubeus Hagrid, famously had a pet dog named Fang. Fang is an oversized boarhound dog who lives with Hagrid in his hut outside of Hogwarts Castle, on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Fang is known to be as protective as Hagrid, who once said of him to the students, “There’s nothin’ that lives in the forest that’ll hurt yeh if yer with me or Fang”.

Marley, Marley & Me (2008)
One of the biggest ever doggy film stars, 2008’s Marley & Me set a record for the largest Christmas Day box office ever that year with over $14m in ticket sales. Marley the dog was actually portrayed by twenty-two different Labrador retrievers to portray his different ages but the main dog was actually a shelter dog who was once given 24 hours to live before he was rescued and cast as the lovable mutt.

The Dog, The Artist (2011)
Aptly named as The Dog in The Artist, the doggy actor is actually named Uggie in real life. Uggie’s career started when he was rescued by an animal trainer and started a career touring with a dog talent show in United States and South America before starring in commercials. His performance in The Artist was considered by many to have upstaged those of his co-stars and even won him the Palm Dog Award in Cannes. It was announced by his trainer that Uggie has now retired.

Pudsey The Dog: The Movie is out on DVD from 10th November 2014, courtesy of Entertainment One.




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