Happy National Dog Day! Having already done posts on Lassie, Rin Tin Tin (here and here), Madame Strakai’s Dogs, Al Mardo’s Do Nothing Dog, Don the Talking Dog, Rosina Cassell’s Chihuahuas, Charlie Prelle’s Talking Dogs, Hal Roach’s Pete the Pup, and others today we redress an omission by celebrating Keystone star Teddy the Dog (ca. 1911-1925).
The 145 lb, 142″ tall Great Dane began acting (performing?) at Mack Sennett’s Keystone in 1913 and appeared in over 60 films (some outside the studio) over the next dozen years. Unlike many screen dogs, Teddy wasn’t on board just to be a cute mascot. As with so many silent comedy stars, his physical type was conducive to slapstick. He was disruptively large, sometimes clumsy in a manner redolent of the later comic strip Marmaduke.
Besides Fatty Arbuckle and Mabel Normand, Teddy was the only Keystone star whose name rated inclusion in movie titles. Teddy at the Throttle (1917) with Gloria Swanson, Wallace Beery, and Bobby Vernon is undoubtedly the best remembered of these. He also appeared in Stella Maris (1918) with Mary Pickford, and many comedies with the likes of Ben Turpin, Charles Murray, Chester Conklin, Ford Sterling, and Slim Summerville, as well as such approximate peers as tot stars Baby Peggy and Jackie Lucas, and a studio cat named Pepper. One of Teddy’s last times before the camera was Mabel Normand’s 1923 feature The Extra Girl (her final Sennett film). The 1924 short The Hollywood Kid was the swan song for both Teddy and 5 year old child star Jackie Lucas.
For more on silent and slapstick film read Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube.
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