The Legacy of Rin Tin Tin
To quote Susan Orlean, author of the new book Rin Tin Tin, the Life and the Legend, "Something you truly love will never die." That's the notion that has kept the famous canine, Rin Tin Tin, alive for over a century.
He was born in 1918 and he lives on today. After a celebrated career over the world in silent films, talkies, radio, vaudeville, comics, and books, it was the 1950s when his famous heroic canine persona took the small screen in The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. This popular program starred the dog and an orphaned boy who were adopted by a U.S.Cavalry troop in Arizona in the late 1800's. It was during the Apache wars and it was fiction, but it captured a beautiful German Shepherd's nature of bravery, independence and vulnerability. It was that beautiful human-like face, soulful eyes and alert, pointed ears that allowed the half hour black and white television program to climb in the ratings faster than any show in the history of television. Rin Tin Tin was born again.
Lee Duncan, Rin Tin Tin's original owner, believed his dog would live forever. This must have sounded like wishful thinking to reporters, fan magazines, family and friends, but after Rin Tin Tin there was Rin Tin Tin Jr., Rin Tin Tin III and then another after him and another and another. Rin Tin Tin was not just an actual living, breathing canine with a long line of descendants, he was an ideal. He was a hero, a friend, a fighter and a caretaker. In reality, he was a living, breathing dog, but he was also an invented character.
Those of us old enough to remember The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin probably grew up loving German Shepherd dogs, maybe even longing to own one. The gentle nature of Rin Tin Tin, his mute genius, and his companionable loneliness brought him into the hearts of Americans, and he still lives on today as the most famous dog in history.
Old Man, a descendant of Rin Tin Tin, still travels around the country making appearances at German Shepherd shows and Hollywood memorabilia events. As crowds gather to see him, whether through memories or through actually seeing and touching his decendants, the famous Rin Tin Tin lives on forever.
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