Rin Tin Tin was discovered in a bombed out kennel in Lorraine, France towards the end of the First World War by an American serviceman, Lee Duncan. Duncan brought Rin Tin Tin back to the US with him where by 1922 he started a film career. Susan Orlean’s new book goes beyond the dog and delves into the story behind all the people who revolve around the idea of Rin Tin Tin. Thomas J Walsh explains these details in his review of Orlean’s book for the Houston Chronicle.
Susan Orlean’s new book about a particular sliver of Americana is no biography of the most famous German shepherd in history.
Instead, Orlean’s curious narrative, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, is a meditation on the human stories within Rin Tin Tin’s orbit, a history of dogs in America, a rare look at Hollywood’s gritty early years, and, not least, a provocative treatise on mortality and immortality.
There’s the dog himself, of course, and the many heirs to his cinematic and TV thrones. There’s Duncan, a country boy whose love of the original Rin Tin Tin ensured that the dog, no matter how famous the man himself became, was always the star — even decades after the original’s 1932 death. (“He believed the dog was immortal,” is Orlean’s opening line.)
There’s Bert Leonard, a tragicomic figure who produced the 1950s TV show and resuscitated the Rin Tin Tin brand for millions of Baby Boomers (including the author), but who also held onto the story with the clenched jaws of a pit bull for the rest of his life, dragging himself to slow ruin in the process. And there’s Daphne Hereford, the Houston area native who inherited descendents of the original Rinty. Like Duncan and Leonard, she had her own dreams of keeping the dog’s legacy alive, only to reap a flurry of litigation and even homelessness.
Read the rest of the review at Review: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend | Bookish | a Chron.com blog.
Neil Oliver, a creature usually only spotted on assorted bits of Coast, left his natural stomping ground to delve deep into the recesses of the past of our fair islands.
And I’m thinking ‘good luck with that’. Although I had to battle my innate pogonophobia – what is it about beardy blokes and ancient history? – this atmospheric root among our roots succeeded in suspending my natural bent for abject superficiality.
There’s something about the voice of the extravagantly tressed Oliver that shivers the bones.
Every twirl of his stretched Celtic vowels makes you fear something very bad is about to happen, and it certainly lent an edge to the tale of a Red Lady, who turned out to be a Red Laddie, and an ancient skull with which Oliver made feverish eye contact.
It was as if he’d stepped through a Primeval-style anomaly to bring the past to life.