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Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star Paperback – October 13, 2010
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About the Author
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Ann Elwood lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with six cats, a desert tortoise, seven box turtles, and a German shepherd, Louis, who looks something like Rin Tin Tin in his soulfulness. At night she can hear the ocean when the tides are high.
When she was a child in New Jersey, her family had a shepherd dog, Mac, who died a tragic death, shot because someone thought his foaming-at-the-mouth fear of a thunderstorm meant he had rabies.
After college, she taught elementary school for a few miserable years, then moved to Camden, New Jersey and landed a job as a typist-clerk at the Philadelpha Bulletin. When her boss discovered she had difficulty typing up circulation figures with twelve carbons, she was fired and found another job writing copy for a paternalistic insurance company that offered a low salary and delicious free lunch. One of the typesetters had the magical ability to square up a stack of paper into a perfect cube.
Eventually she moved to a studio apartment on Irving Place in New York City, and, after a few months of writing copy for a textbook company, went on to freelance as a writer of anything anyone would pay her for. In 1967, she moved to Los Angeles, where she was advertising manager for a publishing company. Then the West Coast was a mecca for writers and adventurers. Within a couple of years, she visited a Malibu beach house, fell in love (long-distance) with Bob Dylan, met Thomas Pynchon (he wouldn't remember it), and saw Hair. In 1972, she returned to freelancing. The following year she moved to Cardiff and adopted her first dog as an adult - Puppy, a mixed breed who looked something like a fox. (To show you how inappropriate Puppy's name became, she'll tell you this: Puppy died at age 17.) She wrote articles for Irving Wallace and his son, David Wallichinsky (People's Almanac and Book of Lists), and did other wonderful things she won't mention here. With Carol Orsag Madigan, she wrote several non-fiction books.
A desire to delve more deeply into ideas finally drove her to graduate school in 1981. Her dissertation focused on an order of 17th and 18th century French nuns so she had to spend a happy year in France doing research. During that year, while not in the archives, she drank local wine with fellow historians and traveled the country with Puppy, who had far less trouble than she did communicating with the French.
Now, she teaches history part-time at California State University, San Marcos, spends time with Louis and the other animals, and writes the books she has always wanted to write but never had the time for.
Top Customer Reviews
It is also the story of Lee Duncan, the WWI soldier who rescued Rin-Tin-Tin from WWI-ravaged France, brought him back to America and made him famous. Duncan's story itself is fascinating...a complex and ambitious character with a talent for spinning stories who cannot resist the compulsion to mythologize himself as well as Rin-Tin-Tin. Ann Elwood's dogged efforts to disentangle the web of myth and reality are an interesting part of this book.
Also hugely rewarding are the great details of social history gathered by Elwood...stories about the experience of American soldiers in World War I, and of early Hollywood, where movie stars went duck hunting in Venice Beach and the Warner Brothers scrambled to establish a business making movies... and succeeded thanks in part to the popularity of their canine star. Ann Elwood is a great storyteller who has done thorough research and lets the fascinating facts speak for themselves!
Most readers now extant were not alive during an epoch in American history when studio shots of canine faces adorned movie posters outside a thousand theaters. The rise of the dog movie star is a curious social artifact that Elwood deciphers with intelligent, thought-provoking verve, enhanced by explorations of the storyboards of Rin-Tin-Tin's movies. And the wealth of accompanying archival material, especially photographs, provides a guided tour to a significant but forgotten time.
Highly recommended for cinema buffs, dog lovers, historians of post-WWI American culture and everyone else who loves finding that special, unusual book that turns out to be a goldmine of provocative ideas.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For all dog fanciers and movie fans interested in the original Rin-Tin-Tin (1918-1932), I highly recommend this dual biography of him and of Lee Duncan, the American soldier who... Read morePublished 3 months ago by William Altimari
This book had some information I did not know; it just didn't hold my interest enough to finish it.Published 15 months ago by Tess
Being a child of the 50's and early television, those old 50's TV shows and especially westerns such as Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Sky King, Davy Crockett, and Rin-Tin-Tin were a... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Carl E. Ahlm
Not much about the dog, mostly about whether his owner fibbed about the dog's past deeds. It's just keeps repeating the same thing over and over.Published 17 months ago by Mary Mal
The author spent to much time on such minute details that i got bored with the book. It appears a great amount of research was done but the book itself was boring.Published 18 months ago by average joe
was kind of dragging and repetitive. the story under the heavy read was interesting, because I loved the show when I was a child, and love dogs in general, but I would never reread... Read morePublished 22 months ago by Gail L Abbott
Interesting but after a while it got weighed down in proving the BS in the Hollywood P.R. story. As a kid I like Rin Tin Tin more than Lassie.Published 23 months ago by Harold A Thurow
Skip this book. The author couldn't be more boring if she tried. Rin Tin Tin barely gets mentioned in the 1st quarter of the book- just disputed facts & the authors assumptions.Published 23 months ago by Pam M.