Iconic Animals and Pets on Movies and Television

Celebrity animals on TV and in the movies

For most of us, pets have become a part of our family. We treat them as if they’re people too, and sometimes like they’re our equal. And it’s not much different in the showbiz world. In fact, many of these animals have become stars in their own rights, and are truly unforgettable in the hearts of minds of the viewers then and now. There are so many animals that have graced the big and small screen, but we’ll list just a few of them for now. You can also read about the most famous cats in movie and TV history here. 

1. Lassie


Lassie seems to be the most popular animal seen on the small or big screen. When you hear the word “Lassie” you conjure up the image of a beautiful collie running on an open glade, as her master Jeff (and later Timmy) calls her name. Lassie is a heroine dog — she is quite smart and can smell well enough to know that that danger is lurking, and goes to the rescue and manages to save the day. As smart as Lassie is, she also loves and lovable – the kind of dogs that kids want! But do you know that Lassie was played by a male dog? Actually most of the dogs that portrayed as Lassie were male collies. The original Lassie’s actual name was Pan, and the following Lassie’s after him were actually his direct descendants.

2. Rin Tin Tin

Rin Tin Tin

The most famous German shepherd, Rin Tin Tin, also captured everyone’s hearts who those who saw him in film and television. As it turns out, the original Rin Tin Tin was actually a puppy, found and rescued in the heat of the battle by an American soldier, Lee Duncan, during the First World War. He named him Rin Tin Tin (with a nickname “Rinty”) and went on to train him. Duncan successfully helped Rin Tin Tin get his first showbiz job (actually a silent film). Rin Tin Tin became a star after that. After his much-publicized death in 1932, there were a lot of Rin Tin Tin successors after that. The most famous successor was the dog – actually Rin-Tin-Tin’s descendant – in the television series The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin that ran in the 1950s. Another point of trivia: Rin Tin Tin became the only dog in Los Angeles who was listed in the telephone directory.

3. Beethoven

This highly-grossing 1992 comedy film features an enormous, slurping Saint Bernard dog named Beethoven. The adorable, friendly but troublesome huge pooch became so popular that Beethoven eventually spawned a series of other films such as Beethoven’s 2nd, Beethoven’s 3rd, Beethoven’s 4th, Beethoven’s 5th, Beethoven’s Big Break, and Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure. The first Saint Bernard’s actual name was Chris, and other Saint Bernard dogs and puppies were employed in the following Beethoven films.

Toto4. Toto

Who can ever forget Toto? The small pooch was actually in the original story The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum. Toto was most famously portrayed by a female brindle Cairn terrier in the 1939 movie adaptation starring Judy Garland. The terrier’s real name was Terry, but because of the popularity she attained through the movie, her name was eventually changed to Toto for good. She went on to star in about a dozen more films.

Animal Actors in Universal Studios

5. Mister Ed (or Mr. Ed)

The only non-canine in this list, Mister Ed, is a talking horse. He originally appeared in author Walter Brooks’ short stories. Mister Ed is also the title of the long-running sitcom, which was based on those short stories, starring the adorable horse. Actually, Mister Ed is quite a troublemaker. The center of the horse’s mischief is his owner Wilbur, the only human with whom Mister Ed can communicate face to face. Mister Ed is frequently devising ways to get Wilbur into trouble. This talkative horse also chats on the phone, and he does that as his own ruse for carrying out his silly plans against his master. Wilbur’s tolerant wife Carol sees that Wilbur loves to hang around the barn with Mr. Ed and she thinks that Wilbur loves the horse more than he loves her. We guess we can’t blame her for that. Although Mister Ed is quite silly, he is still a lovable horse.

6. Petey

Petey is the adorable, lovable pit bull, (later an American Staffordshire terrier). Also known as Pete the Pup, the dog originally appeared in the Our Gang series of short comedies, which were later known as The Little Rascals during the 1930s. The original Petey was “Pal, the Wonder Dog,” and he was born with a black ring that almost circled his eye. This made him adorable and unique. A then-unknown makeup artist by the name of Max Factor completed the circle around his eye.

7. Eddie

Eddie is the star canine in the hit TV sitcom Frasier. The Jack Russell Terrier breed’s actual name was Moose. Eddie is a completely adorable and smart dog with an incredibly high IQ, and he manages to steal the show more frequently than his human co-stars. The running gag of the show was his long, hard and fixed stare at Kelsey Grammer’s character, which made him uncomfortable in some situations. Eddie was well-loved by the audience; in fact, he received more fan mail than any of his human counterparts!

8. Jack (Uggie)

Jack is the screen name of the dog who played in the Oscar-winning film The Artist. Jack’s real name is Uggie, and like Eddie in Frasier, Uggie is a Jack Terrier breed. And like Eddie again, Uggie is a show stealer indeed, particularly as Jack in The Artist. In fact, Uggie’s acting in the film gained such attention that a campaign called “Consider Uggie” was mounted to seek recognition for Uggie’s performance. Many people even commented that the dog should win an Oscar for his acting, and we also think that too!