by Cole Potter
For this year’s last issue, I decided to bring back a favorite column of our readers. After the story’s smash success, students across LGHS were clamoring for a follow up, but some section editors felt that the attention the article attracted was for the “wrong reasons.” Well after fighting tirelessly for months I have delivered upon the people’s wishes. No longer will you be denied the content you crave. So it is with a proud heart and an insatiable curiosity for all things film, that I produce for you the second installment of El Gato’s Dog Actor of the Month.
In our first section we paid tribute to the phenomenal cinematic achievements of Air Buddy, the stray hound gone modern megastar. This time we focus our lens on a canine celebrity of yesteryear. Famous for his appearance in Lassie Come Home, dog actor Pal transcended dog politics and will forever be remembered as a “good boy.”
Pal was destined for fame from the very beginning. He was born in North Hollywood on June 4, 1940 to the bold Red Brucie and glamorous Bright Bauble. Rejected as a show dog because of his slightly irregular face coloration, Pal was sold to Hollywood native Howard Weathermax as a common pet. Weathermax quickly found that his new doggy “pal” was anything but common. Pal delighted in chasing motorcycles down the wide Californian avenues, and barked happily at all that he faced. Howard’s brother Frank, who was well known for training the leading males and females of Doggywood, took on Pal’s case and eventually won him the starring role in the MGM classic, Lassie Come Home. The role originally called for a female dog lead, and had Pal acting as a stunt dog, but when the female refused to ford a rushing river, Pal seized the opportunity and earned himself the starring role. With this feature, Pal became the first dog actor to cross the strict dog acting gender boundary, and revolutionized the dog industry. After a six film run with MGM Weathermax and Pal hit the bricks with the complete rights to all things Lassie.
They contacted CBS who immediately green-lit a pilot of a stand alone Lassie television program. Pal was instrumental in the conception of the show and had the final decision on the young human actor that would play his on screen owner. After filming the two pilots, Pal decided to step down and pass the legacy he had established on to his son Pal Junior. It is always the greats after all, who know when their time has passed.
Speaking of passed, Pal died on June 4, 1958, exactly eighteen years after he was born. The eighty five year old (in dog years) left behind Howard and a family of little pals who would continue to pass the torch of Lassie for years to come.