The First Great Cinema Dog Star: Strongheart

October 5, 2008

The first great cinema dog star was Strongheart (1917-1929) a German Shepherd Dog who was originally trained in German as a police dog.  Laurence Trimble and his wife Jane Murfin, filmmakers who originally worked with Jean, the Vitagraph Dog, brought Strongheart to the United States where he made several highly successful movies, including an adaptation of Jack London’s White Fang in 1925.

Most of Strongheart’s films are believed to have been lost, though his lineage continues to the present day. The Return of Boston Blackie is one film known to have survived. During the course of filming a scene in 1929 Strongheart was burned when he fell against a studio light. This burn led to a tumor that eventually killed him.  He was also the subject of a 1939 book by Robert H. Sommer, Letters to Strongheart. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a line of dog food still produced today by Simmons Pet Food, Inc. is named after him, Strongheart Dog Food.


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