DEAD: Rin Tin Tin

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Rin Tin Tin (aged 14)
Famous German shepherd dog

Rin Tin Tin (often hyphenated as Rin-Tin-Tin; September 1918 – August 10, 1932) was a male German Shepherd that was an international star in motion pictures. He was rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American soldier, Lee Duncan, who nicknamed him “Rinty”. Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin and obtained silent film work for the dog. Rin Tin Tin was an immediate box-office success and went on to appear in 27 Hollywood films, gaining worldwide fame. Along with the earlier canine film star Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin was responsible for greatly increasing the popularity of German Shepherd dogs as family pets. The immense profitability of his films contributed to the success of Warner Bros. studios and helped advance the career of Darryl F. Zanuck

DEATH: On August 10, 1932, Rin Tin Tin died at Duncan’s home on Club View Drive in Los Angeles. Duncan wrote about the death in his unpublished memoir: He heard Rin Tin Tin bark in a peculiar fashion so he went to see what was wrong. He found the dog lying on the ground, moments away from death. Newspapers across the nation carried obituaries. Magazine articles were written about his life, and a special Movietone News feature was shown to movie audiences. In the press, the death was given a wide variety of fabrications such as Rin Tin Tin dying on the set of the film Pride of the Legion (where Rin Tin Tin Jr. was working), dying at night, and dying at home on the front lawn in the arms of actress Jean Harlow, who lived on the same street. In a private ceremony, Duncan buried Rin Tin Tin in a bronze casket in his own backyard with a plain wooden cross to mark the location. Duncan was suffering the financial effects of the Great Depression and could not afford a finer burial, nor even his own expensive house. He sold his house and quietly arranged to have the dog’s body returned to his country of birth for reburial in the Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques, the famous pet cemetery in the Parisian suburb of Asnières-sur-Seine.

In the United States, his death set off a national response. Regular programming was interrupted by a news bulletin. An hour-long program about Rin Tin Tin played the next day. In a ceremony February 8, 1960, Rin Tin Tin was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1627 Vine Street.

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