Jean, the Vitagraph Dog
Jean, also known as the Vitagraph Dog (190? – 1916), was a female Collie that performed leading roles in early silent films. She was the first canine star in the United States having been preceded by the first, Blair, Cecil Hepworth's dog, in England. She however was the first canine to have her name in the title of her films. She was a precursor to other famous U.S. dog actors like Teddy, the Sennett Dog, Pete the Pup, Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin. 
Life and career
Around 1908, Maine resident and writer Laurence Trimble sold an animal story to a New York magazine. It paved the way for him to visit Vitagraph Studios with his dog, Jean, to do a story on film making. Trimble and his pet just happened to be on the set at a time when the company needed a dog to play a scene opposite Florence Turner. As a result, dog and master were asked to stay and both became members of the Vitagraph stock company.:139
"Jean was equal in popularity to Vitagraph's human stars, Florence Turner and Maurice Costello," wrote film historian Anthony Slide.:139 Jean was soon known as the Vitagraph Dog, starring in her own films, all directed by Trimble. One-reelers and two-reelers with titles such as Jean and the Calico Doll, Jean and the Waif and Jean Goes Fishing were made by Trimble as their troupe filmed along the coastline in his native Maine.
Trimble became a leading director at Vitagraph, directing most of the films made by Turner and John Bunny, as well as those made by Jean.:139 Actress Helen Hayes recalled in a 1931 interview with The New York Times that as an eight-year-old she had roles in two of the 1910 films. "I had long curls and they let me play the juvenile lead in two pictures in support of Jean, the collie," Hayes said. "Jean was the most famous dog of the day and I was very thrilled."
In March 1913, Trimble and Jean left Vitagraph and accompanied Florence Turner to England, where she formed her own company, Turner Films.:36 In August 1915, Trimble and his canine star returned to the United States. In 1916, Jean died.:139
Trimble tried to launch the career of a successor, Shep the Vitagraph Dog, without success.:140 He then discovered and worked with another dog star, the famed Strongheart. Trimble eventually retired from filmmaking and trained animals exclusively.
|1908||Unspecified Vitagraph Studios title||:139|
|1910||Jean and the Calico Doll||Short film|
|1910||Jean the Match-Maker||Short film|
|1910||Jean Goes Foraging||Short film|
|1910||Jean Goes Fishing||Short film|
|1910||Tin-Type Romance, AA Tin-Type Romance||Short film|
|1910||Jean and the Waif||Short film|
|1910||Where the Winds Blow||Short film|
|1910||Her Mother's Wedding Gown||Short film|
|1911||Jean Rescues||Short film|
|1911||When the Light Waned||Short film|
|1911||Stumbling Block, TheThe Stumbling Block||Short film|
|1911||Tested by the Flag||Short film|
|1911||Auld Lang Syne||Geordie's dog||Short film|
|1912||Jean Intervenes||Billy's dog||Short film|
|1912||Church Across the Way, TheThe Church Across the Way||Short film|
|1912||Bachelor Buttons||Short film|
|1912||Signal of Distress, TheThe Signal of Distress||Short film|
|1913||Jean's Evidence||Short film|
|1913||Jean and Her Family||Herself||Documentary short film|
|1914||'Fraid Cat||Jeanne, Jim's Dog||Short film|
|1915||Far from the Madding Crowd||Gabriel's Dog||Feature film|
- Blair, the First Canine Movie Actor, Saluting Our Animal Actors, Saturday March 13, 2010
- Jean the Vitagraph Dog: Silent Actor Dog; Famous Pets website, c.2011
- Slide, Anthony (1976). The Big V: A History of the Vitagraph Company. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810809673.
- "Miss Hayes and Films". The New York Times. March 15, 1931. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
- "Amusements at the Dixie". The Bryan Daily Eagle. April 21, 1913.
- "Laurence Trimble Dies". The New York Times. February 10, 1954. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
- Lowe, Denise (2014). An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Women in Early American Films: 1895-1930. Routledge. J: Jean. ISBN 9781317718963.
- "Jean the Match-Maker". Preserved Films. National Film Preservation Foundation. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
- "Jean". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
- "Jean". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
- "Jean". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
- "Photoplay Theatre". The Evening Herald. 1912-04-26. p. 8.
- "Amusements". The Nelson Mail 48. 1913-01-29. p. 7.
- "Marlow Theater". Suburbanite Economist. 1912-10-04. p. 3.
- "Entertainments". Feilding Star. 1913-07-21. p. 2.
- "Entertainments". The West Australian. 1913-08-06. p. 8.
- "The New Star Tonight". Princeton Daily Democrat (Princeton, Indiana). June 4, 1914.
'Fraid Cat.' Vitagraph Comedy Drama, featuring Bobby Connelly, Taft Johnson, Dorthy [sic] Kelly, Albert Roccardi and Jean, the Vitagraph dog.
- "Far from the Madding Crowd". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2015-11-28.