Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Late Great Uggie

Uggie, the scene stealing canine star of The Artist (2011), was put down August 7 2015. He had developed a tumour in his prostate gland. Uggie was 13 years old.

Uggie was born on February 14, 2002 in California. Two owners rejected him as being "too wild" and he was about to be sent to the pound when he was adopted by animal trainer  Omar Von Muller. Planning to only foster Uggie until he could find a forever home for him, Mr. Von Muller decided to keep the puppy and train him as an actor.

Uggie made his film debut in an uncredited part in What's Up, Scarlet? in 2005. He appeared in the films Wassup Rockers (2005) and Water for Elephants (2011) before his star making turn in The Artist. Critics noted the dog's talent, often stating he stole every scene in which he appeared. Campaigns were launched for Uggie to receive a special Oscar as well as a special BAFTA Award. He did win the Palm Dog at the Cannes Film Festival. He also received a special mention at the Prix Lumière Awards, as well as Best Dog in a Theatrical Film at the first Golden Collar Awards. On June 25 2012 his paw prints were placed in front of  Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

After The Artist Uggie appeared in the film The Campaign (2012) and the TV movie Holiday Road Trip. He guest starred on an episode of Key and Peele.

There can be no doubt that Uggie was an adorable dog. He was quite possibly one of the cutest  Jack Russell Terriers to ever appear on screen. But Uggie was also enormously talented. He knew a number of tricks and could display emotions rarely seen in dogs in motion pictures on television. In fact, he numbered among the greatest canine stars of the screen, alongside Skippy (who played Asta in the "Thin Man" movies) and Moose (who played Eddie for years on Frasier). To this day I think it was a miscarriage of justice that he was awarded neither a special Oscar nor a special BAFTA for his work in The Artist. His performance was better than most human actors. In many ways Uggie was the Henry Fonda of the canine set, the best in his profession. Sadly at 13 Uggie was a very old dog. It is sad that he could not have lived much, much longer to leave us with many more great performances.

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