Lee Duncan's early life was characterized both by tragedy and the intricately constructed solitude into which he receded to protect himself emotionally. Born into hardship, Duncan was abandoned first by his father, then his impoverished mother, orphaned along with his older sister when he was he was only six years old. Duncan's mother eventually came to retrieve him and his sister three years later, after she was able to make enough money to care for them.
But by then, the die had been cast. Duncan grew into a man unable to understand, much less participate in, what would be considered normal human interaction, able to create lasting bonds only with animals.
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Fast-forward to Duncan's military service in WWI, where he stumbles upon a newborn litter of German Shepherd pups found in a shelled kennel in France. The bond that Duncan formed with one of these dogs was more than friendship, like that between kindred spirits. Orlean describes the extra-canine feats that Duncan would train Rinty to perform as indelibly connected to a relationship of mutual respect between dog and man. Rinty learned to leap higher, run faster, and show more emotion on-screen than what would seem possible, and he could do it all on cue.
I've never taken to German shepherds and knew very little about Rin Tin Tin going into the book, but I am a dog and a movie lover with a particular interest in twentieth century history, so it would have been hard for this one to have missed. I bought the audiobook for my parents before I was a third of the way through it. Told in a roughly chronological progression, Orlean is very skillful at finding a stride with the story, delving deeply when appropriate and flitting along as the narrative warrants.
Just as one experiences a range of emotions when bonding with a dog through the course of his or her life, I found myself feeling a range of emotions as I entered and stayed in this world. Without a doubt, this is the type of nonfiction that speaks most loudly to me.
I will be seeking out similar work by her and others who have demonstrated such a knack for this type of storytelling. I also liked the way the book was chunked out in numbered, untitled mini-chapters within five titled longer sections. I really thought each of the numbered pieces was very successful in following a compelling arc. In language, style, and narrative, this book was a champ. Find it and tear through it yourself. Nov 15, Almira rated it it was amazing. If you are of a "certain age" you will probably remember, as did I, the television series "The Adventures fo Rin Tin Tin" - a time when young people of today wouldn't believe there were ONLY 3 television networks!
A time when no man had walked on the moon, a time when instant communication was something only seen on the television screen in futuristic fantasy space programs! Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean is a well thought out, well researched look into the real story of If you are of a "certain age" you will probably remember, as did I, the television series "The Adventures fo Rin Tin Tin" - a time when young people of today wouldn't believe there were ONLY 3 television networks!
Susan explores not only Lee's, and the original Rin Tin Tin's, path to fame,glory and eventual decline in the public's eye - with an amazing cast of characters, who along the way find themselves involved with Rinty and all of his successors some his own offspring. This story brought back many fond childhood memories of a different time and place in our society, that, unfortunately, will never be understood or experienced by youth of today.
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Oct 12, Wendy rated it it was ok Shelves: nonfiction , biographies-memoirs. There wasn't much about the actual dogs I enjoyed the parts that were about Lee and old Rin.
Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend
After reading this book, I think the Rin Tin Tin franchise is going to die out because of the people who are trying so hard to keep it going. It was very depressing. Also, there was too much jumping around, t There wasn't much about the actual dogs Also, there was too much jumping around, topically and chronologically. It was very confusing. I just didn't enjoy this nearly as much as I thought I would. I wouldn't bother reading it unless you absolutely must, because if you're a Rin Tin Tin fan, it will probably depress you.
It depressed me, anyway.
Rin Tin Tin is a familiar name to most people, even if only in the vague recesses of the memory. How many have actually watched one of his films or saw the TV show?https://dankdedemare.tk
Susan Orlean: Rin Tin Tin-The Life and the Legend | Bookworm | KCRW
As time goes on, the public attachment gets weaker, but this book serves to document and preserve a screen presence that was once ranked among the top stars of the day. Susan Orlean reads her own audiobook, which is a nice touch. She has a somewhat nasal voice but once you get used to it, it works. She is a fellow Ohioan who inserts Rin Tin Tin is a familiar name to most people, even if only in the vague recesses of the memory. She is a fellow Ohioan who inserts her own journey into this biography frequently, an unusual way to evoke a close emotional connection with the reader.
She traveled a lot and did a lot of research based on very little to start, and this book becomes as much about the people who worked to preserve and prolong Rin Tin Tin's legacy than the dog line itself. Very early on, the story of Rin Tin Tin reignited my own love for dogs, and it made me want to get home to see my own giant puppies.
Oct 24, Nancy rated it really liked it. What lingers? What is snagged by the brambles of time, and what slips through and disappears?.. Maybe all we do in life is just a race against this idea of disappearing. Her story is about the real Rin Tin Tin, the man whose life Rinty 'gave meaning to', and the people who worked to share Rinty's story a "What lasts? Her story is about the real Rin Tin Tin, the man whose life Rinty 'gave meaning to', and the people who worked to share Rinty's story as an example of courage and valor and goodness. It was Rinty's permanence that intrigued Orleans.
Movies and films made Rin Tin Tin a shared legend that crossed generations over the world. Rinty had the ability to convey emotion and was nearly nominated for an Oscar. He was one of the earliest and most successfully merchandised media icons. With The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin came Apache fort play sets, lunch boxes, even the Beyer figurine that Orlean vividly remembers sitting on her grandfather's desk.
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As a child Duncan's mother had to leave him in an orphanage which gave him stability and care, for which he was eternally grateful. Lee empathized with the dogs and saved them, keeping a male and a female pup for himself. He named them Nanette and Rin Tin Tin after locally made dolls that were worn by soldiers as good luck charms. With the end of the war Lee was determined to bring his pups back to the States.
He could no longer face his old job selling guns; they brought back memories of the buddies who didn't come home. He couldn't stand being indoors and took Rinty into the Sierras. He taught Rinty commands and tricks.
Review: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean
In the s the German Shepard Strongheart was appearing in movies. Lee wondered if he could 'make his hobby pay' and developed a story idea for a film starring Rinty. He walked the streets of 'Poverty Row' in Hollywood trying to sell his movie idea. Bert later sold his rights to Naked City and Route 66, but held on to Rin Tin Tin still hoping he'd find another venue for the immortal dog. Lee was megalomanial about his dog. His wife and daughter were second to Rinty. Bert turned down lucrative offers for productions he didn't think were worthy of the Rin Tin Tin image; he died impoverished.
Lee's family packed up all the Rinty mementos and left them behind with friends. Daphne Herford who had bought several dogs from the Rin Tin Tin line tried to keep the legend alive. She and Bert waged a legal battle over the rights to Rin Tin Tin. The book is a joy to read, at once a trip down memory land and an exploration of the human desire to create something lasting. It weaves history, war, show business, humanity, wit, and grace into an incredible story about America, the human-animal bond, and the countless ways we would be lost without dogs by our sides, on our screens, and in our books.
View all 4 comments. Jan 11, Trish rated it liked it Shelves: memoir , totally-unexpected , audio , nonfiction , animals , biography. This is less the story of Rin Tin Tin and his offspring than of the man that owned him…and after that, of the men and women that sought to preserve the memory of him.
Just as Marley and Me was not so much the story of the dog than of John Grogan and his family, so Rin Tin Tin must be imagined through this book and the massive archive of film footage of him and his chosen successors. What This is less the story of Rin Tin Tin and his offspring than of the man that owned him…and after that, of the men and women that sought to preserve the memory of him. What struck me from the century of history behind the name of Rin Tin Tin—the first dog with the name was born in in war-torn France—was how the first man to own him, Lee Duncan, never seemed to develop the same kind of love for any dog of the same name that followed.
None had that unique set of qualities that so endeared Rinty to his owner in the first place. But a huge industry rose and fell on the tide of public opinion through the war years and after, carried on and on by men with more conviction than talent, more hubris than humility. When, many times, the rights to the Rin Tin Tin name could be passed on profitably to keep the flame alive, it was often sequestered and squandered, its value magnified to untenable proportions. Susan Orlean must have wondered many times how she had gotten herself into this project. It required long, deep dives into the lives of obsessives, and it leaves one feeling slightly deranged and breathless to think that the story of that talented canine comes from the dark recesses of neglected warehouses and lives warped to fit the myth.
I listened to the audio of this book, and I had to laugh at how many times I was sure the story was over—by her telling and the inflection in her voice--only to hear another section declaring itself on my mobile device. The name of Rinty was resurrected so many times under such improbable circumstances, that one simply has to credit the wild imaginations of the rights-holders, and one feels a little sorry that the original great Rinty is not alive to be celebrated.
Apr 05, Cheryl rated it liked it Shelves: biography-memoir , animals , adult-nonfiction. I listened to the audio version of this book. It was read by the author.
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