Strongheart: The World’s First Movie Star Dog, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully published in 2014 by Henry Holt and Company
Three dogs have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
I bet you’ve heard of two of them:
and Rin Tin Tin.
The third is new to me — Strongheart.
Strongheart made only six movies in his lifetime, but he warrants a star because he was the very first dog to be a movie star.
He was born Etzel von Oeringen (quite a mouthful) in Germany during World War I and trained for army and police work.
After the war Etzel was shipped to America where a movie director named Larry Trimble was searching for the perfect dog for his latest scheme — a movie starring a dog. Even though Etzel showed off his ferocious side when they met, Trimble immediately noticed his “star power.”
Trimble began a whole new kind of training with Etzel. He learned to play, put away toys, show emotions. Finally he was given a screen name, Strongheart, and Trimble made his first film. It was a huge success!
If you are a dog lover…okay, even if you’re not…I think you’ll love discovering this smart, handsome fellow. Emily Arnold McCully is one of the best storytellers out there, combining fascinating accounts with her warm, engaging watercolor illustrations. A lengthy Author’s Note tells more about Strongheart and his films, only one of which — The Return of Boston Blackie — is still available.