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The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
From left: Lee Aaker, Rin-Tin-Tin, James Brown, and Rand Brooks in 1956.
Directed by
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons5
No. of episodes164 (list of episodes)
ProducerHerbert B. Leonard
Running time25-27 minutes
Production companyScreen Gems
Original release
ReleaseOctober 15, 1954 (1954-10-15) –
May 8, 1959 (1959-05-08)
Boots and Saddles

The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin is an American children's Western television series that aired 164 episodes from October 1954 to May 1959 on the ABC television network.

The show starred 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. Rusty and his German Shepherd dog, Rin Tin Tin, help the soldiers to establish order in the American West. James E. Brown appeared as Lieutenant Ripley "Rip" Masters. Co-stars included Joe Sawyer as Sergeant Biff O'Hara and Rand Brooks as Corporal Randy Boone.[1]

The character of Rin Tin Tin was named after Rin Tin Tin, a legendary screen dog of the 1920s and 1930s. The character was ostensibly played by Rin Tin Tin IV, who was either a descendant or related to the original dog. However, due to Rin Tin Tin IV's poor screen performance, the character was mostly performed by an unrelated dog, Flame Jr.[2]: 195 


Rusty and his dog, Rin Tin Tin (Rinty), are the only survivors of an Indian raid on their wagon train. The boy and his dog are adopted by the 101st Cavalry at Fort Apache, Arizona, where Rusty is commissioned as an honorary corporal. Throughout the series, Rusty and Rinty help the cavalry and the nearby people to establish order in the American West.


Guest stars

Robert Fuller appeared as Stan in the 1958 episode "The Epidemic". Harry Cheshire appeared as Silas Mason in "The Misfit Marshal" (1959).

Brad Johnson (1924–1981) appeared in the role of John Quinn in the episode "The Iron Horse" (1955).

Robert Knapp was cast in the role of Allen in the 1955 episode "The Guilty One".

William Fawcett played an elderly marshal in four episodes, including the 1955 episode, "Higgins Rides Again".

Rico Alaniz appeared twice, as Big Elk in "Rin Tin Tin Meets O'Hara's Mother" and as Don Valdez in "The Invaders" (both 1956).

Other guest stars included Roscoe Ates and Dean Fredericks in six episodes. John M. Pickard appeared three times. Others included Ron Hagerthy, Ewing Mitchell, Ed Hinton, Lee Van Cleef and Harry Dean Stanton.


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
134October 15, 1954 (1954-10-15)June 3, 1955 (1955-06-03)
238September 9, 1955 (1955-09-09)June 1, 1956 (1956-06-01)
340September 7, 1956 (1956-09-07)June 21, 1957 (1957-06-21)
426September 20, 1957 (1957-09-20)April 18, 1958 (1958-04-18)
526September 19, 1958 (1958-09-19)May 8, 1959 (1959-05-08)


Brown and Rin Tin Tin on a 1955 publicity postcard


Producer Herbert Leonard got the idea for the show while shooting at the Corrigan Movie Ranch. He had taken his lunch at the Fort Apache set and got the idea for the entire format, but he needed to convince "Rinty" owner Lee Duncan to get the rights.[2]: 183  Leonard convinced Douglas Heyes to work on the script and they presented it to Duncan. Duncan and Leonard made the agreement to do the show over a handshake and an initial payment of ten dollars.[2]: 184 


Three different German Shepherds were used as the titular character. Rin Tin Tin IV and one other dog were descended from the original "Rinty" of movie fame.[3]: 20  The other dog used was an unrelated dog named Flame, Jr. Due to Rin Tin Tin IV's poor screen performance, the character was mostly performed by Flame, Jr.[2]: 195 


The episodes were filmed on a low budget, with Screen Gems limiting it to less than $50,000 per episode.[2]: 198  Outdoor action was shot largely at Corriganville Movie Ranch northwest of Los Angeles in Simi Valley, where the production made ample use of the facility's set from the movie Fort Apache.[2]: 207  Additional action sequences were shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, known for its huge sandstone boulders and widely recognized as the most heavily filmed outdoor shooting location in the history of Hollywood.[citation needed]

The show's troupe of twelve character actors was 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.[citation needed]


As a show targeting the youth audience, it not only displayed stories with action, but also included moral lessons. Actor James Brown explained, "Our stories simply taught that right was right and wrong was wrong."[4]


The show ran for five seasons on ABC on Friday evenings from October 1954 to May 1959. ABC reran the series on late afternoons from September 1959 to September 1961.[3] During its first season (1954-1955), The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin finished at number 23 in the Nielsen ratings, making it the second-highest rated series on ABC at the time behind Disneyland, which placed number six.[5]

Reruns ran on Saturdays on CBS from September 1962 until September 1964. A new package of reruns was shown in 1976, and continued into the mid-1980s. The original black-and-white prints were tinted sepia with new opening and closing segments filmed in color in Utah.[6] Due to poor scheduling practices of local stations, the rebroadcasts were not successful.[4]

Modern syndication includes remastered episodes produced by Cerulean Digital Color and Animation, with lines redubbed for some scenes using actors other than those from the original series cast, with a different generic theme song.[citation needed]


Critics were generally positive, with TV Guide calling it "crammed with action, gunplay and chase scenes," and that it "makes fine viewing for kids and nostalgic viewing for grownups".[4] Variety, however, was much more critical, calling Aaker "precocious" and "not helped by the direction", and that "the dog does nothing exceptional either".[4]


  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1985). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981, Part II: Live, Film, and Tape Series. The Scarecrow Press. pp. 23–26. ISBN 0-8108-1651-2.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Orlean, Susan (2012). Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. New York City: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4391-9014-2.
  3. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4. Retrieved May 28, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d Yoggy, Gary A. (1995). Riding the Video Range: The Rise and Fall of the Western on Television. McFarland. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7864-0021-8.
  5. ^ "TV Ratings: 1954-1955". Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  6. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2009). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2007 (Volume 1). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-3305-6.

External links

This page was last edited on 30 October 2023, at 12:43
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