Who let the dogs out? Rin Tin Tin doesn’t know, but he knows he wants back in. The big German Shepherd, longtime star of the silver screen, is probably the most famous dog in the world. (Okay, Lassie wants to argue the point), but a lot of people don’t even know the Tinster is still around. And he’s tired of people not knowing. So now “Rinty” has decided to make a comeback. Bad guys beware: this is one tough puppy, and he’s been proving it for a long, long time.
The original Rin Tin Tin was brought to America from France after World War I by an American soldier named Lee Duncan. With Duncan as handler and trainer, Rinty rose to fame in Hollywood’s silent movie era and established himself as the premier canine action hero of the silver screen. The original Rinty passed away in 1932 (movie star Jean Harlow reportedly held him in her arms as he died), but other Rin Tin Tins followed— and the blockbusters did as well.
When television began appearing in living rooms across America, Rinty moved from the big screen to the small. “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin,” began airing in 1954, and quickly became one of the most popular shows on TV. By the end of the 1950s, Rin Tin Tin had spent nearly four decades as the best loved dog in the world. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. By 1959, Lee Duncan was too ill to handle the demands of network TV and Rinty’s series had to go off the air. So Rin Tin Tin IV retired to life as a stud in Houston. (There are worse fates.) Meanwhile, all the good action movie roles started going to actors with only two legs.
Thankfully, there’s a limit to how long a hero can just sit back and enjoy retirement. A new Rin Tin Tin, officially known as Rin Tin Tin VIII, is restless— perhaps jealous of Hooch andr Beethoveen— and getting ready to mix it up with the bad guys again.
The German Shepherd now lives in Houston with owner and trainer Daphne Hereford and a cat named Zebra. In addition to his film comeback, Rinty makes appearances at events ranging from dog shows to book fairs to hockey games (Houston’s team, The Aeros, has issued him an official jersey). Never one to neglect charity, Rinty recently started, with Hereford’s help, Arfkids (“A Rinty For Kids”), a group which provides service dogs free of charge for disabled children.
So, while Rinty returns to the silver screen to rescue those in grave danger, Rinty and Ms. Hereford are helping those with a different sort of need. Who says movie stars can’t also be role models?
To learn more about Rin Tin Tin, visit him at RinTinTin.com