Updated: Nov 18
LASSIE AND RIN-TIN-TIN were famous stars from my childhood. Of all the characters that TV sponsored in the 1950s my strongest memory is of these dogs that left such an indelible bark - the pun is fully intended.
As a youngster, I adjusted quite well to the many changes in the Lassie series as the producers tinkered most years with the human cast of characters, but what bothered me was learning that there had been four or five Lassie’s over the life of the series. Now, that was a stunner.
In my book, there was only one Lassie.
I’m sure that one of my older brother’s laid that factoid on me. The show’s producer likely did his best to keep this quiet. I had trouble accepting these early doses of the way the world worked.
The Adventures of Rin -Tin -Tin is pretty much the same story running for five years in the mid-1950s. Several German Shepard's were used during each episode depending on the various talents required. The producers didn’t seem to worry about the various black to tan coats their star(s) displayed. I guess that was OK as hi-definition was decades away.
Researching their origins, both canines were stars brought to the silver screen by Broadway producers in the 1920s and 30s. A generation of kids before me would have held a similar fondness for each of the dogs watching their many trials during Saturday matinees at their local theater.
So, where is the humor? Let’s just say it is a very happy memory in all its innocence.
Factoid: Campbell’s Soup was the only sponsor for Lassie’s seventeen-year run led by its ad slogan,“M’m! M’m! Good!” The jingle has been retired a few times, but it still lives on.