Animal Actors Present and Past
Animals are more popular in film and television today than ever before, making this a
billion dollar industry. For over 100 years, a wide variety of critters have fascinated,
terrified, and amused audiences in movies, on television, and on the stage. Animals can
and do become big stars.
A Whale Of A Story:
The killer whale Keiko, who was made famous in the movies Free Willy, Free Willy 2 and
Free Willy 3 is probably the biggest animal actor, weighing in at 7,750 pounds. The
whale was captured and sold to two marine parks where he was trained to respond to
hand and arm gestures.
A Mutt Superstar:
Benji — a mixture of cocker spaniel, schnauzer, and poodle whose real name was
Higgins — he was a rescue from an animal shelter. Higgins was taught one trick a week
for thirty-nine weeks. The dogs was steadily employeed for eight years.
Basketball Favorite Air Bud:
Another dog the audiences enjoyed was Buddy, a golden retriever who played
basketball in a Disney movie entitled Air Bud. Buddy ended up sinking the winning free
throws in the movie’s finale. If you can believe it or not Air Bud 6 is on its way.
Yo quiero Taco Bell:
From 1997 to 2000 a Chihuahua named Gidget pitched tacos, chalupas, gorditas and
other Mexican dishes on TV and in print ads for Taco Bell. Filmmakers changed Gidget’s
facial expressions by using a digital animated eyebrow and make her mouth appear to
Moose, a Jack Russell terrier, portrayed Eddie, in the comedy series Frasier. Moose’s
story is one of overnight success and he has been propelled to fame like megastars
Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. He was trained by hand signals and auditioned for Frasier and
booked the job.
Pigs On Camera:
Even pigs must be made up. Every morning during the filming of the Babe movies the
make-up crew washed the six piglets, dyed their eye-lashes black and glued.