Strongheart, canine star of silent cinema
|Species||Canis lupus familiaris|
|Born||Etzel von Oeringen
October 1, 1917
|Died||June 24, 1929
Los Angeles, California
|Owner||Laurence Trimble and Jane Murfin|
Strongheart was the screen name of Etzel von Oeringen (October 1, 1917 - June 24, 1929), a male German Shepherd who became one of the earliest canine film stars. After being trained in Germany as a police dog and serving in the German Red Cross, he was brought to the United States at age 3 by husband and wife filmmakers Laurence Trimble and Jane Murfin, who had previously worked successfully with Jean, the Vitagraph Dog. He appeared in several movies, including a 1925 adaptation of White Fang. Some of these pictures were highly successful, and did much to encourage the popularity of the German Shepherd breed.
A popular celebrity in his day, Strongheart paved the way for the much better remembered Rin Tin Tin.
Strongheart and his mate, Lady Jule, had many offspring and their line survives to this day.
In 1929, while being filmed for a movie, Strongheart accidentally made contact with a hot studio light and was burned. These burns caused a tumor to form, which ultimately caused his death that year. "God bless you, Strongheart, God bless you," were the words of the dog's eulogist and former trainer, Laurence Trimble.
Spiritualism and Strongheart
After Strongheart's death, J. Allen Boone wrote two books, Kinship with All Life and Letters to Strongheart, about animal communication and the survival of the dog's soul after death. Both books were reprinted many times and remain classics of the Spiritualist faith.
Strongheart in popular culture
- A dog food company named their product after him; Strongheart Dog Food is still being produced.
- Strongheart has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 1724 Vine Street.
- The Silent Call (1921)
- Brawn of the North (1922)
- The Love Master (1924)
- North Star (1925)
- White Fang (1925) (*based on the book White Fang)
- The Return of Boston Blackie (1927), thought to be the only Strongheart movie still in existence
- Boone, J. Allen. Letters to Strongheart (Prentice Hall, 1939; Robert H Sommer, 1977, ISBN 0-933062-19-2; Tree of Life Publications, 1999, ISBN 0-930852-34-6)
- Boone, J. Allen. Kinship with All Life (Harper and Row, 1954; HarperCollins, 1976, ISBN 0-06-060912-5)
- Strongheart. Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- "The Story of Strongheart," Dec. 1921 Photoplay, p. 48
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