From a sheep-herding pig to a talking horse to Tarzan’s chimpanzee sidekick, here are some of Tinseltown’s most famous non-human stars, each of whom have made their marks (and, in some case, marked their territory) in Hollywood.
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Rin Tin Tin
Rescued from a battlefield by an American soldier during the First World War, the German Shepherd dubbed Rin Tin Tin went on to become one of Hollywood's most bankable stars in the early days of Tinseltown, appearing in 27 films before the original "Rinny" died in 1932. Several other dogs (descendants of the original) appeared in numerous films throughout the 1930s, with yet another assuming the role in 1947's The Return of Rin Tin Tin, and in a TV series that ran from 1954 until 1959. So popular was Rin Tin Tin that the dog even starred in its own popular radio series, with three different shows airing between 1930 and 1955.
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Back in 1995, moviegoers couldn't get enough of the heartwarming blockbuster Babe, about a clever young pig who impresses a farmer and wins a sheep-herding competition. While fans may have fallen in love with the film's namesake, they may not have been aware that Babe was played by not one pig — but by 48 of them! That's because pigs tend to grow quite rapidly, so six at a time were used to portray the porcine protagonist during the six weeks of filming.
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Benji (real name: Higgins)
During the mid-1970s, one of Hollywood's biggest stars was a dog named Higgins. Doesn't ring a bell? Perhaps you're more familiar with the character he played in a hit movie called Benji. Discovered by Hollywood trainer Frank Inn at a shelter, the mixed-breed mutt (a melange of Border Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, Miniature Poodle and Schnauzer) turned out to be one of the smartest, most-trainable dogs Inn had ever worked with. After appearing in 163 episodes of TV series Petticoat Junction, Higgins landed the lead role in 1974's Benji, which was so successful it spawned numerous sequels. Higgins only starred in the first film, however; the lovable canine was portrayed by his daughter, Benjean, in such sequels as For the Love of Benji, Benji At Work and Oh Heavenlly Dog!
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Bruiser (real name: Moonie)
Adorable chihuahua Moonie made moviegoers ooh and ahh in the role of Bruiser, Elle Woods' (Reese Witherspoon) cutie canine sidekick in Legally Blonde and its sequel, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde. Witherspoon reportedly bonded quite closely with Moonie, who even accompanied her to her 2010 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony (pictured). Moonie passed away in 2016 at the ripe old age of 18.
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In numerous Tarzan films throughout the 1930s and 1940s, the Lord of the Jungle was accompanied by his sidekick Cheetah, who, confusingly, wasn't a cheetah but a chimpanzee. A chimp named Jiggs originated the role in 1932's Tarzan the Ape Man, but died of pneumonia shortly after filming. After that, the role of Cheetah was played by about a dozen chimps over the years.
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Eddie (real name: Moose)
Moose is best known for playing the role of Eddie on hit sitcom Frasier, the beloved pet of Frasier Crane's (Kelsey Grammer) cranky father (John Mahoney). Before the Parson Russell Terrier passed away at age 15 in 2006, at one point Moose was so popular he had his own calendar and even an "autobiography," My Life as a Dog. Fun fact: Moose's son, Moosie, was adopted by actress Peri Gilpin, a.k.a Frasier's Roz.
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Running from 1964 until 1967, the TV series Flipper followed the adventures of a bottlenose dolphin who was the sort-of pet of a pair of Florida youngsters. The role of Flipper was originally played by a dolphin named Suzie, with five other dolphins also playing the role throughout the series — all of whom were female, as female dolphins were deemed to be less aggressive and easier to train than males.
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Lassie (real name: Pal)
There are few Hollywood dogs as famous as Lassie, the Rough Collie who appeared in 11 movies, ranging from 1943's Lassie Come Home to 2005's Lassie, as well as a long-running TV series that aired from 1953 until 1974. A dog named Pal played Lassie in seven feature films, until 1951, with Pal's descendants playing the role in the TV series and all future iterations of Lassie thereafter.
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Marcel (real name: Katie)
Not many capuchin monkeys can boast about being an integral part of one of TV's all-time great sitcoms, but Katie isn't your run-of-the-mill simian. Katie's breakout role as Ross' (David Schwimmer) pet monkey, Marcel, only lasted one season, after which Marcel was never heard from again. Katie, by the way, shared the role with another monkey, who goes by the somewhat generic name Monkey.
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Mister Ed (real name: Bamboo Harvester)
"A horse is a horse, of course, of course." So began the iconic theme song of CBS sitcom Mister Ed, which aired from 1961 until 1966, following the adventures of a guy named Wilbur (Alan Young) and his talking horse (played by a palomino gelding named Bamboo Harvester). A different horse was used in the pilot, but was deemed too difficult to work with, and Bamboo Harvester landed the role, which he played until the series' cancellation.
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Willy (real name: Keiko)
Free Willy was a box-office smash that spawned three sequels and even its own video game. At the centre of it all was Keiko, a trained orca discovered at an aquatic amusement park in Mexico City. The success of the films led to a "Free Keiko" movement, and the killer whale was eventually released into the wild in 2002 after five years of training to survive in the wild. Sadly, Keiko didn't thrive in the pen ocean; 10 days after being released near a pod of whales in Norway, Keiko returned to his pen, preferring human companionship and being fed daily instead of having to hunt for food. Keiko passed away in 2006 at age 26.
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Spuds MacKenzie (real name: Honey Tree Evil Eye)
Spuds MacKenzie may have been "the original party animal," surrounded by adoring bikini-clad women (the "Spudettes") in a series of Budweiser beer commercials in the late 1980s, but the Bull Terrier who portrayed him, Honey Tree Evil Eye, was actually a female. Honey Tree Evil Eye passed away in 1993, just a few years after the L.A. Times declared Spuds to be "the Nation's Most Unlikely Sex Symbol."
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Morris the Cat
One of the all-time great TV commercial campaigns featured a finicky cat named Morris who would only eat 9Lives cat food. Morris was discovered at a Chicago animal shelter in 1968; after the original Morris died in 1978, two other cats subsequently played the role in the ubiquitous commercials, with Morris serving as the brand's "spokes-cat" for more than a decade. Morris also branched out from TV commercials to big-screen success, appearing alongside Elliott Gould and Burt Reynolds in, respectively, The Long Goodbye and Shamus.
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Gidget's real name wasn't used in the numerous Taco Bell commercials in which she appeared, playing a unnamed chihuahua who could speak, but apparently only knew one phrase: "Yo quiero Taco Bell." Gidget was originally cast as a girlfriend to the starring chihuahua, Dinky, but a switch was made at the last minute and Gidget landed the role, which she played throughout the entire run of the ad campaign, from 1997 until 2000. Gidget also appeared in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde as Bruiser's mom.
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It seems bizarre these days, but once upon a time the box office was ruled by singing cowboys, and Roy Rogers was at the top of the heap. One of the constants in Rogers' films and TV series was his faithful horse, Trigger. Trigger's original name, Golden Cloud, was changed when Rogers selected the horse out of four others when asked to choose one for his first starring role. Rogers chose well, and Trigger became a staple of Rogers' films and live appearances. Trigger, in fact, became Hollywood's most famous horse, even having a comic book depicting his adventures. When Trigger died in 1965, Rogers took the unusual step of having the horse stuffed and mounted, and was on display for many years at The Roy Rogers Museum.