1 9 5 4 – 1 9 5 9 (USA)
164 x 26 minute episodes
In 1954, former silent screen canine character Rin-Tin-Tin was resurrected and became the star of this weekly, half-hour children’s adventure series set in the late 1880s at an army outpost ‘out West’.
Rin-Tin-Tin, like his silent screen ancestor, was a magnificent German Shepherd dog.
He was also the heroic mascot of an 11-year-old boy who had been orphaned during an Indian attack on a wagon train and lived at Fort Apache (somewhere near the fictional town of Mesa Grande in Arizona) under the care of the soldiers of B Company of the 101st Cavalry – ‘The Fighting Blue Devils’.
The dog was also more than welcome at the fort as he had saved the life of Sgt Biff O’Hara.
The show was packed with action – Indian massacres, gunfights, and horseback chases.
The boy, Rusty (who had been given an honorary rank of corporal) was played by child actor Lee Aaker. Also featured in prominent roles were James Brown (not the godfather of soul!) as Lieutenant Rip Masters, Joe Sawyer as Sergeant Biff O’Hara and Rand Brooks as Corporal Boone.
Three different German Shepherds were actually used to portray “Rinty” during the series run. Two of the dogs were actual descendants of the original silent screen dog star, a former German army dog whose big screen debut came in Where The North Begins (1923).
Re-runs of the show were shown as a Saturday morning offering and began to appear on television shortly after the programme stopped production in 1959.
A new show called Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop – in which the infinitely resourceful dog was recruited to the Toronto Police Department – was made by The Family Channel in 1987.
Lt Rip Masters
Sgt Biff O’Hara
Cpl Randy Boone