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8 iconic animal actors

By: Matt Hickman on Sept. 11, 2013, 5:50 p.m.
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Uggie as "the Dog." Cosmo as "Arthur." Jill as "Verdell." Terry as "Toto." Higgins as "Benji." And perhaps most traumatically, Darla as "Precious." While these are all fine examples of outstanding cinematic turns by canines in Oscar-nominated or Oscar-winning films, only one four-legged thesp has been honored with a five-pointed star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That, of course, would be Lassie.

To be clear, while Lassie isn’t the only fictional pooch immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — she’s joined by silent-movie stars Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart — she is, as mentioned, the only live-action animal boasting a starring role in an Academy Award-nominated film, 1943’s "Lassie Come Home" which was nominated for best cinematography. Lassie, depicted as a female, was in fact the stage name/alter-ego of Pal, a North Hollywood-born male rough collie who not only starred in "Lassie Come Home" but a series of sequels and spin-offs before entering retirement (he died in 1958 at the age of 18 ... or 126, depending on who you ask.)

So what about the long-running "Lassie" TV series that debuted in the mid-1950s? While Pal portrayed the titular pooch in two pilots for the series, his descendants – Lassie Jr., Baby, Spook, Mire, and Hey Hey – all displayed their acting chops during the nearly 20-year run of the Emmy-winning show. When it comes to acting dynasties, not even the Fondas, Redgraves or Barrymores stack up to Pal and his preternaturally talented progeny.