The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin is an American children’s television program.  The show ran for five seasons on ABC on Friday evenings from October 1954 to May 1959, airing 166 episodes.  ABC reran the series on late afternoons from September 1959 to September 1961.

It starred child actor Lee Aaker as Rusty, a boy orphaned in an Indian raid, who was being raised by the soldiers at a US Cavalry post known as Fort Apache.  He and his German shepherd dog, Rin Tin Tin, helped the soldiers to establish order in the American West.  Texas-born actor James Brown appeared as Lieutenant Ripley “Rip” Masters.  Co-stars included veteran actor Joe Sawyer and actor Rand Brooks from Gone with the Wind fame.

The character of Rin Tin Tin had appeared in movies and radio serials since 1922.  One dog who appeared briefly in the TV series was fourth in the bloodline of the original Rin Tin Tin silent film canine actor.  The main screen dog for the TV show was trainer Frank Barnes’s Flame, Jr., called JR (pronounced Jay Are) by Barnes.  Other dogs appearing as Rin Tin Tin included Barnes’s dog Blaze and Lee Duncan’s dog, Hey You.  Hey You descended from Rin Tin Tin, but was marred in appearance by an injury to an eye received in his youth.  Hey You served as a stunt dog in fight scenes.  The episodes were filmed northwest of Los Angeles in Simi Valley at Corriganville Movie Ranch on a low budget, limiting the film stock to black-and-white.  The show’s troupe of 12 character actors were often required to play multiple parts in the same episode, sometimes to the point of one actor fighting himself, wearing a cavalry uniform in one shot and an Apache outfit in another.