“Man’s Best Friend...”Not just a sprawling history of a beloved celebrity dog, this biography by New Yorker staff writer Orlean is also a deeply touching tale of loyalty & love.
Home & GardenBiography & MemoirEntertainment & Performing Arts Biography & MemoirDogsCelebrity Biography & MemoirPets
He believed the dog was immortal. So begins Susan Orlean’s sweeping, powerfully moving account of Rin Tin Tin’s journey from abandoned puppy to movie star and international icon. Spanning almost one hundred years of history, from the dog’s improbable discovery on a battlefield in 1918 to his tumultuous rise through Hollywood and beyond, Rin Tin Tin is a love story about “the mutual devotion between one man and one dog” (The Wall Street Journal) that is also a quintessentially American story of reinvention, a captivating exploration of our spiritual bond with animals, and a stirring meditation on mortality and immortality.
Topics: Hollywood, Adventurous, Dramatic, Dogs, Film, Animals, and Female Author
Be the first to review this title!
I've liked other books by Orlean much better. There wasn't so much meat here as I expected, somehow. The official story of Rin Tin Tin is odd, full of half-truths and outright lies, strange characters and broken hearts. There's nothing cheerful anywhere- not the dogs, not the owners, not the companies promoting same. I liked the original story of how the original puppy was found, but the rest was pretty grim reading.more
I can't recall ever seeing a Rin Tin Tin film or television episode but I was somehow aware of the phenomenon like Lassie, Benji and other famous pooches. Orlean's offers a fascinating and engrossing story about how Rin Tin Tin went from being an actual dog by that name to a legend embodying the personality and virtues any german shephard with the right look, training and talent could portray.more
In movies and on television, the German shepherd known as Rin Tin Tin seemed almost human. As Susan Orlean reports in her excellent book "Rin Tin Tin," the dog often seemed almost human in real life, too. Consider:- The dog's name and number were once listed in the Los Angeles telephone directory.- He earned more for his movies than human actors did, once making $1,000 a week for a silent picture when the lead human actor made only $150.- Rin Tin Tin was named a co-respondent in a divorce case, a position normally taken by the other woman.- In Academy Awards voting one year, Rin Tin Tin got the most votes in the Best Actor category, although Emil Jannings was eventually given the Oscar.Rin Tin Tin's entire story is an amazing one, starting with his discovery, along with other puppies, on a French battlefield at the close of World War I by Lee Duncan, an American soldier. Duncan brought the dog home with him at the end of the war, trained him and eventually turned him into one of the biggest stars of the silent era in Hollywood. Decades later, one of his descendants using the same name became a huge star in a popular television series (although other dogs actually appeared on the screen).Yet Orlean's book is not just the story of a famous dog. It is also the story of the less famous people behind the dog, including Duncan, who made Rin Tin Tin the center of his life; Bert Leonard, a colorful Hollywood producer responsible for "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" on television in the 1950s (he also produced "Route 66" and "Naked City"); and Janniettia Brodsgaard and Daphne Hereford, two Texas women responsible for keeping Rin Tin Tin's breeding line alive.Of course, to that list must now be added the name of Susan Orlean, whose long research and excellent story-telling ability have brought Rin Tin Tin back into the public eye.more
Interesting look at the Rin Tin Tin phenomenon from the silent film to talkies to the tv show. The book explores Rin Tin Tin’s original owner, Lee Duncan’s life, from at one point being abandoned by his mother in an orphanage to finding the German Shepherd puppies in a bombed out kennel in WWI Germany. Duncan’s attachment to the dog is extraordinary, so much so that at one point his first wife named the dog as correspondent in their divorce. Duncan’s determination to tell the story of the dog by knocking on doors in Hollywood and finally getting picked up by Warner Brothers is the typical Hollywood star discovery story but in this case, it was true. However, after the success of the films, the stories did not transition as well to the sound era but Duncan never seemed to give up. He continued breeding the dogs, looking for another that had the personality of the first, but never seeming to find it, and eventually died broke. He always wanted to tell the original story of the finding of Rin Tin Tin in that bombed out kennel and Rin Tin Tin's rise to fame but never got to. The story transitions to Herbert Leonard who produced the Rin Tin Tin tv series and always wanted to produce another tv series once the original one was cancelled. Then there is Daphne Hereford, who started with 4 puppies who were descendents of the original Rin Tin Tin and who is continuing the blood line with Rin Tin Tin XII. It is a fascinating story as the author visited many of the locations where Rin Tin Tin and/or Duncan were connected to the small town in France where Duncan found the puppy to the Corriganville ranch where the tv series was shot to the Riverside library where all of Duncan's papers from his "Memory Room" are stored. Interviews with Duncan’s daughter and those involved in the tv series as well as Daphne Hereford gives the book a well-rounded look at the story of Rin Tin Tin from WWI to the present day. I found the initial part on the original Rin Tin Tin the most interesting as well as Duncan’s persistent in keeping the legend of Rin Tin Tin alive. Once the book got into the television series, it seemed the people involved were more concerned about making money than preserving the Rin Tin Tin legacy. Additionally the book did wander off into the history of dogs in American homes in the 20th century, some of which had no relation to the Rin Tin Tin story at all and could have been covered in another book. Additionally, I would have liked lots more photographs as they were barely existent in the book. A complete filmography, tv list of all the appearances Rin Tin Tin or dogs called Rin Tin Tin would have also made the book more complete.more
Read all 25 reviews