Hollywood Dogs

“Hollywood Dogs,” photographs from the John Kobal Foundation. ACC Editions. $45.

When is the last time you could remember the name of a dog in a movie you viewed?HollywoodDogsCover

If you lived in the 1920s to ‘50s, chances are that would have been no problem. For instance, try Rin Tin, Lassie or Asta.

These four-legged stars often drew equal billing with such iconic figures as Bob Hope, Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, Tony Curtis, Ginger Rogers, Elvis Presley and the list goes on and on.

Movie stills and not-so-posed photos are featured throughout this showcase.

“Movie dogs were reliant on superb trainers who diligently followed their charges’ every move,” says Robert Dance, in the Introduction. “These trainers worked in partnership with directors on the set, ensuring that the dogs only upstaged the actors when the script indicated or the director approved.”

In 1927 the Hollywood Dog Training School was founded, establishing the early importance of man’s best friend on the screen. Dance notes that Lassie was paid more than Elizabeth Taylor in the 1946 film, “Lassie Come Home,” when they were both new to Hollywood.

Even beyond the ‘50s, where this volume ends, dogs have continued to be featured in film, but seldom to the extent they were during the Golden Age of Film.

As William Secord points out in the Foreword, many film dogs drove the popularity of their breed to greater heights, witness boxers, German shepherds and cocker spaniels. “But the interesting breed histories of these dogs notwithstanding, there can be little doubt that the pets on these pages were meant to humanize the stars, creating images to which everyone could relate – of companionship, loyalty and the love of a dog.”

For some, the volume will resurrect a torrent of memories with an invigorating feel. For others, it will capture an insightful cultural portrayal of a dynamic industry’s adventurous spirit and eye-candy scenarios.