September means TIFF season in Toronto – the magical time of year when the city plays host to Hollywood’s biggest stars.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake, Matthew McConaughey, Emma Stone, and Anne Hathaway have all graced the red carpet this week, to name a few. And as the celebrities party it up in the 6, we decided to celebrate the sometimes overlooked but always hard-working talent in Hollywood; some of tinsel town’s biggest names on four legs.
Breed: Yellow lab
Famous for: Marley and Me
Clyde was three-years-old when he caught his big break as Marley in Marley and Me. He was one of 22 yellow labs to play the infamously wild but incredibly charming “clearance puppy,” Marley, alongside co-stars Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.
Despite the large group of labs cast for the film, Clyde received the most on-screen time in the final cut and was even nominated for a Teen Choice Award in the “Choice Liplock” category for his on-screen kiss with Wilson.
Although he did work with a trainer for the film and even attended a “disobedience school” designed to train dog-actors in phony disobedience, Clyde is naturally rambunctious and playful. Author and owner of the real Marley, John Gorgan, visited the movie’s set and said that Clyde “definitely embodies the spirit of Marley.”
If Clyde didn’t have you laughing and crying in this movie, did you even see it?
Breed: French bulldog
Famous for: Modern Family
Brigitte the pudgy and adorable French bulldog is widely known and loved as the mischievous pet of the Delgado-Pritchett household on the ABC hit sitcom Modern Family, but she wasn’t born into the spotlight of Hollywood.
The path to stardom for Brigitte was not always easy. As a puppy, her family surrendered her back to her breeder in Tennessee. With nowhere to go, she was taken in by celebrity-dog trainer Guin Dill and found a home with Good Dog Animals, a Los Angeles based company that auditions dogs for showbiz.
Brigitte landed the role in Modern Family as a puppy before she was even trained because she was just that cute. Dill says she is a speedy learner, often figuring out her cues based on the actors’ lines, not even having to be called. And contrary to her on-screen persona, Dill says Brigitte is “no diva,” and very well-behaved on and off set!
Breed: Pit bull
Famous for: Parks and Recreation
Who doesn’t love a pit bull?
Despite being differently abled than her four-legged counterparts, Lucy the three-legged pit bull, is a star. Best-known for her role in Parks and Recreation as Champion, April and Andy’s beloved rescue dog, Lucy frequently sports fashionable costumes even though her character is a boy.
The three-legged pup is a rescue in real life, too! She was adopted by the Los Angeles based organization Pitbull Rescue in 2004 and has been acting ever since, in shows including Parks and Rec and The Office, and in the 2009 movie, Hotel for Dogs.
I love Lucy!
Breed: Golden retriever
Famous for: Air Bud, Full House
Air Buddy, also known as Buddy the Wonder Dog, is perhaps one of the best-known dog actors over – a true movie star – and a very important one to 90’s kids everywhere!
Kevin di Cicco found Buddy as a stray in 1989 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Di Cicco adopted him and brought him to San Diego where he trained Buddy in sports, like basketball, soccer, and hockey.
Buddy got his start when he appeared on the Letterman Show, bouncing basketballs into hoops, but his big break came in 1989 when he was cast as Comet, the beloved family pet of the Tanners in the hit sitcom Full House.
Following Full House, in 1995, Buddy starred in his first film, Fluke, before starring in his most legendary role, Air Bud. The film, about an abandoned dog that’s taken in by a young boy following his father’s death, was a favorite of kids everywhere and turned Buddy into a household name. The film, which was Buddy’s last, grossed a total $27.8 million USD during its theatrical run.
In 1998, Buddy appeared at the Kid’s Choice Awards, where he was nominated for his role in Air Bud. He passed away later that year due to complications from cancer.
When the Full House spinoff, Fuller House, launched in 2016, many were left heartbroken by the fact that Buddy could obviously not be the dog starring as the Tanners’ new pup, Cosmo – although, we love Cosmo, too.
Breed: Parson russell terrier
Famous for: Frasier, My Dog Skip
Moose was a true celebrity in every sense of the word. He captivated audiences as Eddie Crane in the NBC 90’s/2000’s sitcom Frasier – so much so that at the show’s peak, Moose was receiving more fan mail than any of his human counterparts.
Born last (and largest) in his litter, Moose was rambunctious and mischievous from birth, chasing birds and tearing slippers. It proved to be too much for his Florida family, and at two-and-a-half years old, Moose was sent to L.A, where trainer Mathilda DeCagny, who trained animals for television and film, took him in.
Moose won the role of Eddie Crane after just six months of training and was launched into stardom. He appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, and in 2000, his official autobiography, My Life as a Dog, written by Brian Hargrove, husband of Frasier co-star David Hyde Pierce, was released.
Moose starred as old Skip in the Frankie Muniz flick, My Dog Skip – a heart-wrenching film about a lonely boy and his best friend, Skip, while Moose’s son, Enzo, also starred in the film as young Skip.
Moose passed away in 2006 at his home in Los Angeles, where he lived with Enzo and DeCagny.
Famous for: Men in Black, Men in Black II
Let’s be real here – pugs are truly the rock stars of the dog world, and even the rest of the world, too.
Hollywood’s brightest pug-star is definitely Mushu, who starred in Men in Black and Men in Black II as Frank, an English-speaking Remoolian alien from space, posing as a regular pug on Earth.
While Mushu plays only a small role in the first movie, he takes on a much larger role in the second, alongside Will Smith as Agent J’s partner.
Mushu sadly passed away before the filming of Men in Black III, but was still included in the movie’s promotional poster, and throughout the film in photos, including one scene where a picture of “Frank” can be scene in Agent J’s room, as well as a billboard in Coney Island, which reads, “The Incredible Speaking Pug.”
Mushu’s trainer and owner, Cristie Miele, described him as a natural – hardworking and very serious about his work, “unlike” a lot of other dog actors.
Mushu has been immortalized in Men in Black: The Series, an animated TV series.
Breed: Jack Russell terrier
Famous for: Water for Elephants, The Artist
It’s fair to say that I’m jealous of anybody who’s been in the same room as Robert Pattinson, and Uggie is no exception.
Uggie the Jack Russell was born in 2002, and like many other dog stars, was surrendered by his first family for being too “wild.” He was on his way to a pound when dog trainer Omar Von Muller took him in – initially as a foster pet, but eventually as a permanent companion.
Uggie got his start in commercials, followed by a tour of the United States and South America in a dog show, where he would perform skateboarding tricks (coolest ever).
He made his film debut in the 2011 romantic flick Water for Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon. Uggie played the much-loved pet of circus clown, Walter.
He also starred in what was arguably his most prolific role in the 2011 silent film, The Artist. Critics and audiences alike loved Uggie and he was celebrated as “stealing every scene.” He even walked the red carpet alongside his human co-stars at the film’s premiere, and went on a promotional tour, which included talk show appearances and photo shoots.
In 2011, a campaign, “Consider Uggie,” began with fans and cast calling for Uggie to receive an honorary Academy Award for his role in the movie. He never did receive his Oscar, but he did win the Palm Dog Award at Cannes that year.
Breed: Rough collie
Famous for: Lassie
If you asked somebody to name a famous dog, nine times out of ten Lassie would likely be their answer.
The Lassie franchise spanned decades, but a rough collie named Pal played the original pup – making him one of Hollywood’s first dog stars.
Born in California in 1940, Pal began his acting career in 1943 as Lassie in MGM’s Lassie Come Home, the first instalment in the Lassie series. Pal went on to star in the following six Lassie films, before retiring from film to appear at fairs and rodeos, and ultimately on television – filming the first pilot episodes of the Lassie TV series in 1954.
Pal passed away in 1958, but the role of Lassie continued to be played by his descendants for 17 seasons of the show.
The Saturday Evening Post Standard described Pal’s career as the “most spectacular canine career in film history.” We agree!
Breed: Jack Russell terrier
Famous for: Wishbone
Another one for the 90’s kids!
Soccer the dog is someone that anyone who was a kid in the 90’s will be familiar with. He starred in the television series Wishbone as the title character. The show was about a talking Jack Russell from Texas named Wishbone who spent his days daydreaming of himself as the main characters from classic stories. This show raised a lot of us 90’s kids!
Soccer came up through commercials, starring in campaigns for Nike, and various dog food brands, before getting his start in TV. He was chosen for the role of Wishbone over 100 other dogs that auditioned for the role. His ability to do backflips was a major factor in his casting.
Etzel von Oeringen aka Strongheart
Breed: German shepherd
Famous for: Probably the first true movie star dog
Etzel von Oeringen aka Strongheart is both the oldest dog on this list, and also the dog with the coolest name. He truly is the dapper grandfather of dog stars.
Born in 1917 in Berlin, Etzel served as a police and Red Cross dog during the First World War, however, following the war, his poverty stricken owner, terrified that Etzel would end up in inhumane hands in Germany, sent him to a friend in the United States.
There, Etzel was put into dog shows where he was described as “immense in body and hind leg formation, in body and legs a trifle better than either of the dogs above him.” From there, he was spotted by dog trainer Laurence Trimble, put into acting, and Etzel’s name was officially changed to Strongheart for marketing purposes. He went on to star in six major motion pictures throughout the 1920’s and is considered the first canine major movie star.
Strongheart passed away in 1929, but in 1960 he was honored with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.