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Mongrels & Mutts
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 million.


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 then as the cute little mutt named Dog (and Boy) living on the rural comedy PETTICOAT JUNCTION/CBS/1963-70.

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 year."

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.

Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince

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