Louise's Reviews > Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend

Rin Tin Tin by Susan Orlean
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Aug 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: dogs, biography, entertainment-industry
Read in August, 2012

This book shows how each generation of Rin Tin Tin had a public role that was relevant for its time. In the Hollywood silent film era he starred under his own name. World War II, he led in the Dogs for Defense recruitment effort. In the dawn of TV era, he helped develop the TV drama.

There are lots of colorful people in this story. Lee Duncan through luck, pluck and total devotion, took Rin Tin Tin (and his mother and still nursing him and his siblings) from a battlefield of World War I and made him an international star. Herbert B. Leonard (Bert), the director of the TV series (as well as "Naked City" and "Route 66") may be the most intriguing and the second most devoted to Rin Tin Tin. After the series was cancelled he spent a small fortune to preserve the Rin Tin Tin image and keep his story in the public eye.

Jannettia Propps Brodsgaad and her daughter Daphne are BIG fans and as eccentric as people come. There is the strange Paul Klein who appears as Lee Aaker (the child star of the TV series). There is an incredible happenstance involving the real Aaker that eventually brought Daphne and Bert together in the courtroom.

I appreciated the author's personal comments of how she felt at various times in her research, for instance at the birth and burial sites of Rin Tin Tin, of meeting people who knew Lee Duncan, of finding documents and memorabilia.

From the text it seems that there are many photos to be had, but there are very few in the book. The ones included could use some labels. For instance, the one on p. 100, which I presume is Lee Duncan (is it?) but which Rin Tin Tin? What year? Also, there is no index.

This is a very pleasant and informative read.

I came to this book, not as a fan (I saw TV program only a few times) but through the NY Times Best 100 Books of 2011. I see how this made the list.
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Louise The reader sees how each generation of Rin Tin Tin had a relevant public role in its time. In Hollywood silent films he starred under his own name, he led in the Dogs for Defense effort in World War II and he helped develop the TV drama.

There are lots of colorful people in this story. Bert (Herbert B. Leonard), the director of the TV series (as well as “Naked City” and “Route 66”) may be the most devoted and intriguing. After the series was cancelled he spent a small fortune to preserve the Rin Tin Tin image and keep his story in the public eye.

Jannettia Propps Brodsgaad and her daughter Daphne are BIG fans and as eccentric as people come. There is the strange Paul Klein as Lee Aaker (the child star of the TV series) . There is an incredible happenstance involving the real Aaker of that eventually brought Daphne and Bert together in the courtroom.

I appreciated the author’s personal comments of how she felt at various times in her research, for instance at the birth and burial sites of Rin Tin Tin, of meeting people who knew Lee Duncan, of finding documents and memorabilia.

While from the text it seems that there are many photos to be had, there are very few in the book. The ones included could use some labels. For instance, the one on p. 100, which I presume is Lee Duncan (is it?) but which Rin Tin Tin? What year? Also, there is no index.

This is a very pleasant and informative read.

I came to this book, not as a fan (I saw TV program only a few times) but through the NY Times Best 100 Books of 2011. I see how this made the list.


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