Hollywood Walk of Fame honors Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Strongheart ... but not Asta. A travesty, we say!
Skippy, a wire fox terrier, starred alongside the likes of William Powell, Myrna Loy, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in classic films like the "Thin Man" series and "Bringing Up Baby." But he gets no love on the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- stars there, it seems, are reserved for the heroic likes of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.
Skippy never played a hero -- just a feisty little dog who often got into trouble. (Remember when George, his "Bringing Up Baby" character, makes off with paleontologist Cary Grant's prized intercostal clavicle? Or, similarly, when his Asta character runs away with a note thrown through Nick and Nora Charles' window in "After the Thin Man"? That's what we mean by "trouble.")
If you ask us, Skippy was the Meryl Streep of animal actors, all but disappearing into his roguish roles. (Sure, one could make the argument that he was roguish in real life, meaning he wasn't really acting, but merely playing himself. But if playing oneself means one isn't really acting, then how can we explain the wildly successful career of Jack Nicholson?) For all his talent, though, Skippy is starless on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
The Times' new Hollywood Star Walk database notes that only three dogs -- Lassie, Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart -- are honored on Hollywood Boulevard. They're heroes, all -- not one Skippy or Bamboo Harvester (the horse who played the title character in "Mr. Ed") among them.
Now, don't get us wrong -- we love Lassie as much as the next guy. Who wouldn't? And Rin Tin Tin's crimefighting career is beyond reproach. The third and final dog on the Walk of Fame, Strongheart, was heroic both onscreen and off -- prior to his Hollywood career, the German shepherd, then known as Etzel Von Oeringen, served with the German Red Cross during World War I.
Yeah, we thought not. Now isn't it about to honor some animal actors who could?
-- Lindsay Barnett
A new Times database puts readers on the sidewalks of Hollywood, using more than a century of archives to track the lives of the stars. Click to find out more.
Photo: Skippy as Asta in the 1937 film "After the Thin Man." Credit: MGM