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German Shepherd
Rin Tin Tin - German shepherd on the military adventure THE ADVENTURES OF RIN TIN TIN/ABC/1954-59 (sponsored by National Biscuit Company and Milk Bone Dog Biscuits).

Rip Masters, Rusty and Rin Tin Tin
Lt. Masters, Rin Tin Tin and Rusty

Rin Tin Tin (Blaze Jr.) was the canine companion of Rusty (Lee Aaker), a young boy orphaned when his parents were killed in an Indian raid.

Adopted by the 101st cavalry outfit, a.k.a. "The Fighting Blue Devils," Rusty (promoted to Corporal) and his pet Rin Tin Tin lived at Fort Apache, a frontier outpost in the Arizona Territory of the late 1800's.

Lt. Rip Masters (James Brown), Sgt. Biff O'Hara (Joe Sawyer) and Cpl. Boone (Rand Brooks) were Rusty and Rin Tin Tin's close friends.

When trouble rose its ugly head, Corporal Rusty cried "Yo, Rinny!" and the heroic German shepherd leaped into action biting bad guys, fighting wild animals and saving people from disasters.

Theme Song Lyrics

So brave is Corporal Rusty.
Though he is just a boy.
How true as Private Rin Tin Tin
They are the Army's pride and joy.

Yo Rinny, Yo Rinny
Pals through thick and thin.

From all the tales of the West
We'll remember best
Corporal Rusty and Private Rin Tin Tin.

Yo Rinny, Yo Rinny
Pals through thick and thin.

From all the tales of the West
We'll remember best
Corporal Rusty and Private Rin Tin Tin."

The TV series was based on the "Rin Tin Tin" movies of the 1930s that starred a German shepherd named Rin Tin Tin who in real life was born in the war torn countryside of France during the First World War.

As the story goes, on September 13, 1918, Lee Duncan, a 29-year-old US Air Corp pilot was rummaging through the remains of a bombed out airfield abandoned by Kaiser Wilhelm's German Infantry when he discovered six starving German shepherd pups huddled in a trench.

Lee adopted two of the dogs and gave the rest to his buddies. Duncan named his canine waifs Nanette (female) and Rin Tin Tin (male). Their names were derived from the tiny dolls/charms worn by the French soldiers for luck.

According to legend, two lovers Nanette and Rin Tin Tin took shelter in a railway station with a crowd of other refugees during a German bombing raids. The station was demolished and every one was killed but the two lovers.

Sadly, Nanette the dog died a few days before reaching America but Lee Duncan began training Rin Tin Tin to respond to voice and hand signals and eventually featured the dog in his first film Where the North Begins (1923) produced by Warner Brothers.

His screen debut made the dog so popular that Rin Tin Tin and successive generation of look-alikes have starred in more than 40 movies and, of course, the 1950s TV series. The original Rin Tin Tin died on August 10, 1932.

Rin Tin Tin was so popular that his film success bought Warner Brothers from the brink of bankruptcy and earned the nicknamed "the dog that saved Hollywood."

Later, his son Rin Tin Tin, Jr. (a.k.a. "Rinty II") succeeded him in 1938 and then another descendent and veteran of the K-9 Corps (and Purple Heart winner) starred in The Return of Rin Tin Tin (1947).

The dog used for the TV series was called Golden Boy, Jr, the son of Flame who starred in the 1940s Columbia Rin Tin Tin films. Flame had starred in his own successful series of "Rusty" films in the 1940s. J. R was trained by Bob Blair and Neil Gazely and owned by Frank Barnes who called the dog "Jay-Are." J.R. contracted cancer in one leg around 1962 and soon after had to be put down.

Other dogs used as stand-ins on the series were Hey You and Bearheart. There was also a stuffed dog used for stunts like leaping into the clutches of the bad guys. 

In 1976, the Rin Tin Tin TV series was re-released with new sepia tinted beginnings and endings with an older James Brown (died in 1992 of lung cancer) who reprised his role as Lt. Rip Masters. The dog seen on the revival series was reportedly a descendent of the original Rin Tin Tin. These new scenes were shot in Kanab, Utah.

The original series was shot at Big Bear, California and Simi Valley at Corrigan's Ranch that was originally built by director John Ford for the motion picture Fort Apache (1948). The fort no longer stands.

Rin Tin Tin won the Patsy Award in 1958-59 for outstanding animal performance on a TV series.

In 1987, Rin Tin Tin resurfaced in a low-budget syndicated revival called RIN TIN TIN :K-9 COP that aired on the Family Channel. This time Rin Tin Tin (played by Rocky) was teamed with police officer Hank Katz (Jesse Collins) from a special canine unit of the Toronto Police.

TRIVIA NOTE: Lee Duncan, the trainer of the original Rin Tin Tin Dogs died from bone cancer on September 20, 1960. Ms. Propps from Body Guard Kennels and her granddaughter Daphe Hereford continued the bloodline of the Rin Tin Tin dogs after Duncan's death. Ms. Propps passed away December 17, 1988.

Today, new generations of Rin Tin Tin are alive and well and still helping children through ARFkids Foundation that provides service dogs to disabled children nationwide at absolutely no cost to the recipient family.

A Rin Tin Tin dog searched the Pentagon following Sept. 11, 2001. Rin Tin Tin is a registered Trademark(s) of Miss Daphne Hereford, P.O. Box 27, Crockett, Texas 75835.

The original Rin Tin Tin sired Junior and Rin Tin Tin III. Rin Tin Tin II and IV were progeny of Odin von Buescher Schloss as are subsequent Rin Tin Tin’s. Rin Tin Tin II-IX can be traced to Horand, connecting them to the original Rin Tin Tin.


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