Benji - A beige colored little mutt
who rose to stardom in 1974 when he was chosen for the title role in
the box office hit movie Benji (1974) that grossed over $45
The film's producer, Joe Camp got the idea for Benji from Walt
Disney's animated feature Lady and the Tramp (1955).
Owner/trainer Frank Inn originally found Benji (aka, "Benji") in a Burbank animal shelter
in the early 1960s. Inn's nickname of "Higgins" was derived from the
name of a butler character on the ABC series OUR MAN HIGGINS
starring Stanley Holloway.
Benji first appeared as one of Elly May Clampett's
"Critters" on the sitcom THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES/CBS/1962-71 and
the cute little mutt named Dog (and Boy) living on the rural comedy
Boy became the "Shady Rest Dog" when he followed Betty Jo Bradley
(Linda Kaye Henning) home to the Shady Rest Hotel owned by Kate
Bradley (Bea Benaderet).
Benji was inducted into the American Humane Association Hall of
Fame being awarded a P.A.T.S.Y. The American Guild of Variety
Artists gave him a GEORGIE in 1976 for being "animal act of the
The original Benji was a mongrel blend of Cocker Spaniel,
Poodle and Schnauzer. He retired at the ripe old age of 17 years, and
left a female look-alike pup to carry on in
the sequel films For the Love of Benji (1977) and Oh,
Heavenly Dog (1980).
Benji the dog also starred in the half hour variety show The
Phenomenon of Benji (the first time in history an animal
headlined his own prime time special telecast Thursday May 4, 1978,
which traced the life & career of this cuddly little canine);
Benji's Very Own Christmas Special and on CBS Saturday morning
children's series BENJI, ZAX AND THE ALIEN PRINCE/CBS/1983-84. The
motion picture Benji: The Hunted (1987) featured the son of
the original Benji.
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