April 21, 2018


(ABC, October 15, 1954-May 8, 1959)

Screen Gems

            Rin Tin Tin was a German Shepherd rescued from a World War I battlefield by soldier Lee Duncan. Duncan trained Rin Tin Tin and secured him silent film work. He was a box office success, appearing in 27 films and gaining worldwide fame and increasing the popularity of his breed as household pets. After the death of the original in 1932, others from his lineage continued on the tradition of appearing in radio and film.

Rusty, Lt. Masters and Sgt. O'Hara with Rin Tin Tin.

            In 1954, Screen Gems produced The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin. Initially, Rin Tin Tin IV was planned to star in the show, but most of the work was performed by Flame Jr., owned by trainer Frank Barnes, and Rin Tin Tin’s descendant Hey You. The series followed the adventures of Rusty (Lee Aaker), a boy orphaned in an Indian raid and now residing at Fort Apache with the US Cavalry, as he and his dog, Rin Tin Tin, helped the soldiers establish order in the American West. James Brown played Lt. Ripley “Rip” Masters, Joe Sawyer played Sgt. Biff O’Hara, Rand Brooks played Corporal Randy Boone, and William Forrest played Major Swanson.

Protecting the west.

            The series premiered on ABC on October 15, 1954. It was made on a low budget and featured a small troupe of 12 actors who often had to play multiple roles—sometimes in the same episodes. The show ran for 5 seasons and 164 episodes. Following its conclusion, ABC moved it from Friday evenings to late afternoons until 1961. In 1962, CBS acquired the broadcast rights to the show and reran it on Saturday mornings until 1964. In 1976, a new package of reruns aired with the film prints tinted brown and given a new color opening and closing sequence. Present day reruns were remastered by Cerulean Digital Color and Animation with new music and some lines redubbed by different actors.

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