Rin Tin Tin (September 1918 – August 10, 1932) was a male German Shepherd dog rescued from a World War I battlefield by an American soldier, Lee Duncan, who nicknamed him "Rinty". Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin (often hyphenated as Rin-Tin-Tin) and obtained silent film work for the dog. Rin Tin Tin was an immediate box office success and went on to appear in 27 Hollywood films, gaining worldwide fame. Along with the earlier canine film star Strongheart, Rin Tin Tin was responsible for greatly increasing the popularity of German Shepherds as family pets. The immense profitability of his films made Warner Bros. studios a success and helped advance the career of Darryl F. Zanuck. In 1929, Rin Tin Tin may have received the most votes for the first Academy Award for Best Actor, but the Academy determined that a human should win.
After Rin Tin Tin died in 1932, the name was given to several related German Shepherds featured in fictional stories on film, radio, and television. Rin Tin Tin, Jr., appeared in some serialized films but was not as talented as his father. Rin Tin Tin III, said to be Rin Tin Tin's grandson but probably only distantly related, helped promote the military use of dogs during World War II. Rin Tin Tin III also appeared in a film with child actor Robert Blake in 1947.
Duncan groomed Rin Tin Tin IV for the 1950s television series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, but the dog performed poorly in a screen test and was replaced in the TV show by trainer Frank Barnes's dogs, primarily one named Flame, Jr., called JR, with the public led to believe otherwise. Instead of shooting episodes, Rin Tin Tin IV stayed at home in Riverside. The TV show Rin Tin Tin was nominated for a PATSY Award in 1958 and in 1959 but did not win.
After Duncan died in 1960 the screen property of Rin Tin Tin passed to TV producer Herbert B. "Bert" Leonard who worked on further adaptations such as the 1988–1993 Canadian-made TV show Katts and Dog which was called Rin Tin Tin: K-9 Cop in the US and Rintintin Junior in France. After Leonard died in 2006 Leonard's lawyer James Tierney made the 2007 film Finding Rin Tin Tin; an American–Bulgarian production based on Duncan's discovery of the dog in France. Meanwhile, a Rin Tin Tin memorabilia collection was being amassed by Texas resident Jannettia Propps Brodsgaard who had purchased several direct descendant dogs from Duncan beginning with Rinty Tin Tin Brodsgaard in 1957. Brodsgaard bred the dogs to keep the bloodline. Brodsgaard's granddaughter, Daphne Hereford, continued to build on the tradition and bloodline of Rin Tin Tin from 1988 to 2011; she was the first to trademark the name Rin Tin Tin in 1993 (Duncan had never done so) and she bought the domain names rintintin.com and rintintin.net to establish a website. Hereford also opened a short-lived Rin Tin Tin museum in Latexo, Texas. Hereford passed the tradition to her daughter, Dorothy Yanchak in 2011. The current Rin Tin Tin XII dog owned by Yanchak takes part in public events to represent the Rin Tin Tin legacy.
Read more about Rintintin: Origins, Silent Film, Death and Legacy, Successor Dogs, Radio, Television, In Popular Culture, Original Filmography, Rin Tin Tin Jr. Filmography, Rin Tin Tin III Filmography