but how many have heard of Strong Heart?
Strong Heart, the 97th anniversary of his birth is today, was the first major canine film star, pre-dating the better remembered Rinty.
Strong Heart was born in Germany and initially trained as an attack dog before being acquired by dog trainer Larry Trimble at the age three. He appeared in his first film, The Silent Call, in 1921 and was instantly a big star.
Due to his large size and somewhat intimidating appearance he often played wolves and wild dogs, but at home with Trimble and his wife he was apparently a perfect, loving, and gentle pet.
The public adored Strong Heart and he spent 9 years staring in films and traveling the press circuit.
He fathered many puppies with his wife Lady Jule, a female German Shephered and a fellow film star. Jule and Strong Heart where profiled in movie magazines much like any other Hollywood power couple.
He received a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and inspired a line of dog food.
In 1929 when he was 12 Strong Heart was burned by a movie light and developed a tumor at the sight of the burn. He died a short while later.
Strong Heart was greatly missed after his death. His friend the spiritualist, animal communicator, and Hollywood produce J. Allen Boone wrote several books about Strong Heart. Letters to Strong Heart is the most well known and is still in print, it consists of a series of letters Boone wrote to Strong Heart after his death and is perhaps the first book on pet loss ever published.
Sadly nearly all of Strong Heart's films have been lost, below is a clip from The Return of Boston Blackie 1927, his only surviving film. In the clip he can be seen "attacking" an actor. Trimble said that Strong Heart was so gentle that he never ever injured an actor, not even a scratch, even when filming attack scenes.