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Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star Paperback – October 13, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

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. 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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453866655
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453866658
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 10 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,186,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

About the Author


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.

Customer Reviews

Too much repetitive name-dropping and dates.
Sharon
Brought up with the TV Rin Tin Tin, I was fascinated to learn about the original dog and his role as an early movie star.
Mary L. Locke
I looked forward to reading this book,but after a few chapters decided that it wasn't worth finishing.
BDK Fl

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By mcp on December 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Until Ann Elwood brought him alive I could not imagine why anyone would want to know about Rin Tin Tin. Ms Elwood brings him alive and has sorted through the truth and the lies of his history. She has done a thorough, entertaining, study of the dog, his training and his owner. It is fascinating and a very good read.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robin P on July 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book tells the true story of Rin-Tin-Tin, and how he came to be one of the great movie stars of American film...a story as fascinating as any of the fictional plots of Rin-Tin-Tin's famous films.

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!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Abigail Padgett on April 6, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Full disclosure - I am a friend of the author but it doesn't matter. Were I so fortunate as to stumble over this absolute delight of a book in an unlived alternate life somewhere else, I'd still love it! Why? Because it pulled me in to a world about which I knew nothing. RIN-TIN-TIN:THE MOVIE STAR is exhaustively researched yet not remotely pedantic. Ann Elwood's warmth and concern for the actualities of a dog movie star's life dissolve the usual flags indicating academic research, yet leave the quotable facts available. The multi-layered tale of a French WWI puppy and his enigmatic owner, transported to Hollywood in its heyday, is told with humor, accuracy and an expansive analytical style that will fascinate even cat people.

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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Janice Steinberg on July 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Though I faithfully watched the "Rin-Tin-Tin" television series in the 1950s, I had no idea that there was a real Rin-Tin-Tin, and that he had quite a story. Ann Elwood's well researched and engagingly written biography is an intriguing detective story, as she teases out the documented facts about RTT from the myths manufactured about him. As a story of one of of Hollywood's earliest stars, the book also offers a thoughtful look at the moment in when the movies began to shape our cultural narrative.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By K. Weber on May 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
Before reading this book, I knew basically nothing about the original Rin-Tin-Tin, a German shepherd dog who starred in a number of silent films (and few talkies) in the 1920s and 30s. This is not the Rin-Tin-Tin of the famous 1950s television series, nor the considerably less famous early 1990s television series, but rather their predecessor. From his storied (and probably false) origins in war-torn France through his death and legacy, this meticulously researched examination of the first real (canine) movie star leaves no stone unturned. I was less interested in the plots of the films than in the society in which Rin-Tin-Tin lived, this little pocket between World War I and the Great Depression. The ASPCA was just starting to gain mainstream political clout, the first talkies were released, and journalistic integrity was still evidently largely unknown. (Seriously, the number of conflicting newspaper reports cited got a bit silly after a while.) It helps that I have a weird fascination with the turn of the 20th century to begin with, but even so, I found this study of one of the most famous non-human actors in history to be surprisingly engaging. If you are a dog-lover or have an interest in early film history, consider picking this one up.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wally W. on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. Elwood's Rin-Tin-Tin is a fascinating exploration of Warner Brother's first real star as well as an important detailed study of the historical era in which he emerged. Dr. Elwood brings the skills of a trained historian in telling the story of not only the dog but of his handler. This is a very readable and interesting tale that reveals much about film history and the complicated bonds between humans and animals in the early twentieth century.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary L. Locke on January 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Brought up with the TV Rin Tin Tin, I was fascinated to learn about the original dog and his role as an early movie star. This is a lively, well-researched book that tells the intriguing story of Rin Tin Tin and his owner, while providing insight into the use of dogs in World War One, early Hollywood, silent films, and the reasons why animals, particularly dogs, were so popular as movie stars. The pictures of Rin TinTin are wonderful, and I loved every minute of this book!
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