Before Lassie, before Rin Tin Tin, even before broadcast television itself, there was Petey — the canine character in the Our Gang/Little Rascals comedies who sported a distinctive dark circle around his right (or was it left?) eye.
Just as plenty of myths have floated up and been deflated around the kid actors who played roles in the series — like Spanky, Alfalfa and Buckwheat — the historical record is so fuzzy when it comes to Petey that trying to separate the facts from the fictions can leave one … well, stymied.
I knew the dog who played Petey was a pit bull (though some dispute that). I assumed the ring around his eye was entirely fake (though some dispute that, too). I’d heard he, in real life, was murdered and that he was buried in a Los Angeles pet cemetery (though not everybody agrees on the specifics of those events, either).
When it comes to the canine star of the Our Gang/ Little Rascals comedies, there’s not too much one can say definitively — partly because there was more than one Petey, partly because 80-plus years have passed, and partly because it all happened in Hollywood, a land where truth and myth often spill across their borders and into each other.
But I’m relatively sure this karma-filled episode — in which Petey is put into a gas chamber by a cranky dog warden who goes on to get what he deserved — was, ironically, Petey’s last. (Or at least the second Petey’s last.)
Entitled “The Pooch, it came out in 1932 — like all the “Our Gang” comedies, in movie theaters. Not until 1955 were they syndicated to appear on television as “The Little Rascals.”
The episode stars the second Petey, son of the first Petey, both of whom were owned by trainer Harry Lucenay.
Pal had appeared earlier in the role of Tige in the Buster Brown comedies.
It was for that role that, with dye, a partial dark circle around his eye was turned into a permanent full circle.
After signing a contract with Hal Roach Studios, Pal reportedly became the second highest paid actor of the “Our Gang” series.
Pal’s last appearance was in the 1930 episode, “A Tough Winter.”
Legend has it that Pal, in real life, died after eating meat tainted with poison, or glass. Some reports say the culprit was someone with a grudge against Lucenay.
Then again, legend also has it that Pal was buried with the actor who played Alfalfa, which — given the decades that passed between their deaths — is likely not true at all.
After the death of Pal, who appeared mostly in the “Our Gang” silent films, Lucenay turned to one of Pal’s descendants, a pup with slightly different coloring.
The second Petey, named Lucenay’s Pete, was just six months old when he took over the role. He lacked Petey One’s distinctive eye circle, so one was supplied by a make-up artist named Max Factor, according to Wikipedia.
Likely unaware that it would lead to confusion, the trainer had the second Petey’s circle applied around his left eye, while the first Petey’s encircled his right eye.
Eight decades later, the migrating eye circle remains one of the most hotly debated pieces of Little Rascals trivia.
As a rule, if you see a Petey with a circle around his right eye, it’s the first Petey; if you see a Petey with the circle around his left eye, it’s Petey two.
All that gets further complicated, though, by the fact that many of the images one can find of Petey are the result of reversed negatives, and even more complicated by the fact that, all along, multiple dogs, with slightly different markings, were used in the filming of the series.
Apparently, continuity was not too much of a concern among directors back then.
In any case, the second Petey served from 1930 to 1932, when Lucenay was fired.
There were multiple subsequent dogs — all from different bloodlines — who played the role of Petey between 1932 and 1939, when the final Our Gang episode was released in theaters.
The second Petey retired with Lucenay to Atlantic City and would die at age 18.
Like so much else about them, the second Petey’s final resting place, as with the first Petey’s, is disputed, according to Roadside America.
While Petey was a pit bull, an American bulldog was used in the 1994 “Little Rascals” movie.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 4th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alfalfa, animals, buckwheat, circle, dog, dog warden, dogs, dye, entertainment, eye, gas chamber, harry lucenay, little rascals, our gang, pal, pete, petey, pets, pit bull, pitbull, rumors, spanky, stymie, the pooch, trainer, trivia, urban legends
The Huffington Post reported that the “Les Misérables” star was walking her dog on the day after Christmas and found herself being followed by a man with a camera.
When Esmerelda pooped, Hathaway dutifully scooped it up in a yellow plastic bag, and knotted the top.
Then, the website reports, she placed the bag on the windshield of the unidentified photographer’s car and walked away.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 30th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actress, animals, anne hathaway, bag, car, dog, dogs, entertainment, esmerelda, les miserables, movies, paparazzi, paparazzo, pets, photographer, poop, pooparazzi, scoop, waste, windshield
You can call me Fuddy Duddy. You can call me Party Pooper. This Halloween, like every Halloween, I find myself put off by the effort, and money, we Americans put into dressing up our dogs for the occasion.
In trying to figure out why I feel that way, I can pin down four reasons.
One is the annoyance, and safety risk, elaborate costumes can cause for dogs. Two is that our dogs, though they might register their displeasure, don’t get to vote on being dressed up solely for the amusement of ourselves. Three is we’re tinkering, if only for a night, with something that’s already perfect. Dogs don’t need costumes any more than Mona Lisa needs a makeover.
And four is the pipedreamy thought that the $300 million we spend on costumes for pets every year could do a lot of good if it could somehow be funneled to some worthy dog-related cause.
A not-overly-elaborate costume, worn by a dog for a few minutes, doesn’t bother me. But we tend to take things to extremes when we get into decorating mode — resulting in using dyes to make them look like other animals, or, as in the case above, TV characters.
“Creative dog groomer” Catherine Opson appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Tuesday night, showcasing five of her designs — a dog transformed into a koi pond, one dyed to resemble a leopard, one zombie, one depicting nearly the entire cast of Sesame Street, and another depicting characters from the Simpsons.
Her work is impressive, and a small part of me thinks it’s kinda cool. She uses safe dyes, and the dogs, at least while on air, didn’t seem too humiliated (though they were mostly poodles).
But the larger part of me (and I’m not referring to my stomach) can’t help but feel a little troubled by what seems our increasing tendency to, more and more elaborately, decorate our dogs.
Every October, the news media, websites and blogs go nuts when it comes to costumed dogs, promulgating more of the activity. (ohmidog! is proud to be the only dog blog in the galaxy that has made it, until now, all the way to Halloween without doing so.)
If there is any creature that is entertaining and endearing enough just as it is, it is a dog. If there’s any creature that doesn’t need a makeover, it’s a dog. If there’s any creature we should be able to accept, savor and celebrate just as it is, it’s a dog.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 31st, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: 300 million, americans, amusement, animal welfare, animals, behavior, catherine opson, characters, costumes, creative groomer, decorate, decorating, dog, dogs, dyeing, dyes, entertainment, grooming, halloween, jimmy kimmel, jimmy kimmel live, koi pond, leopard, money, pets, sesame street, simpsons, species, spend, the barking dead, zombies
Participants, whether they are hiking the 1.5-mile walk-a-thon or checking out vendors and entertainment, will be helping to support homeless animals in the Baltimore area.
For the walk-thon, registration opens at 9 a.m. and starting line ceremonies will take place at 10 a.m.
The event also features a demonstration by Mid-Atlantic Disc Dogs, pet training tips, an agility course for dogs, low-cost micro-chipping, a “flea-less” market of pet friendly vendors, musical chairs for dogs, and a pet costume contest judged by celebrity guests, food and entertainment.
Prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers, including a grand prize trip to the Bahamas. Participants will receive a special “doggy bag” that includes treats, corporate giveaways and other gifts. Dog bandanas will be given to those who raise at least $30, and the 2011 March for the Animals t-shirt will be given to walkers who raise at least $40.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adoption, animals, baltimore, demonstrations, dogs, Druid Hill Park, entertainment, event, events, fundraiser, March for the Animals, maryland, mdspca, pets, rescue, shelters, spca
For all those wondering what Steve Carell would do after “The Office,” now we know: He has agreed to star in and co-produce a new movie about talking to a dog.
It may sound cutesy, but it’s not.
“Dogs of Babel” will be a film adaptation of the 2003 novel by Carolyn Parkhurst, described as a tragic story of love and loss, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Carell — pretty much a virgin when it comes to serious drama — will play a linguistic professor who comes home to find his wife dead in the backyard.
When the police rule the death an accident, the professor has some doubts, and he attempts to teach his dog Lorelei — the only witness – to talk, so he can learn about the final moments of his wife’s life.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 25th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: actor, animals, books, carolyn parkhurst, comedy, dogs, dogs of babel, drama, entertainment, film, linguistics, loss, love, movie, movies, pets, steve carell, talk, television, the office
There’s the Celebrity Walk of Fame at the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau, where Garth Brooks, Neil Diamond, Debbie Reynolds, Jesse Ventura and others have left their signatures, handprints and footprints in cement.
There’s the Plains Art Museum, the Fargo Air Museum, the Red River Zoo, and just across the way from my motel, a big mall.
Yes — despite the stereotype of it as a place where boredom reigns, where temperatures lean toward the bitter extremes (and we won’t even go into woodchippers) — there are things to do in Fargo.
We’re just not doing any of them. Instead, we’re holed up in a Motel 6, where I’m flinging french fries into Ace’s mouth.
Why? Because it’s so damn cold.
Just as John Steinbeck, on his trip west with Charley, worried about getting across the northern states before winter set in, we’re beginning to fret as well; only we have ample reason — predictions of a October blizzard.
All night long, the wind rattled the windows of my motel room. The three-to-five inches of snow the local weatherman predicted hasn’t fallen — at least not here, not yet — but the warnings were enough to get me to book another night.
Just walking to the Burger King next door yesterday was bone chilling. Ace thought so, too. As eager as he was to get outside, he was even more eager — once experiencing it — to get back in.
Back in the room, for entertainment, I set aside half of my French fries and, in what’s become a habit during our travels when I get fast food, tossed portions to Ace. He gets the discolored ones, and the pointy ended ones. For some reason, I don’t like my fries to have pointy ends. Though he was on the bed, four feet away, he missed but one fry, snagging each of the rest with a snort.
So far I haven’t seen much of Fargo, and that which I have has been through fast-flapping windshield wipers. The night I arrived, after checking in, I went off in search of downtown Fargo. On my only other trip here, three years ago, I didn’t explore at all. I did, during a stop for lunch, ask a waiter where downtown was, and he informed me there was no downtown. Maybe he was new here, or it was his way of saying Fargo’s downtown didn’t meet with his standards. Maybe he was having fun with tourists.
But I can report there is a downtown, and that the road to it, at least from my motel, is lined with pawn shops. Once there, I couldn’t see much, because it was so dark and rainy, but I sensed tall buildings.
It has remained grey since then. That alone normally wouldn’t keep me inside, but the wind is downright cruel, and the rain is a stinging one and the one time I did go out in the car — to buy dog food — my car door, powered by the wind, attacked me both when I got out and when I got back in.
Even the wildlife thinks it’s too cold. Tonight, when I went downstairs for ice, I saw a rabbit huddled between a trash can and the wall by the motel’s side door, seeking shelter from the wind and rain.
I was going to offer to share my room with him — invite him up for a discolored French fry, maybe suggest he consider relocating to warmer climes – but he ran off when I approached the door.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 28th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, blizzard, boredom, burger king, coen brothers, cold, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, downtown, entertainment, extreme, fargo, french fries, harsh, john steinbeck, motel 6, motels, movie, north dakota, pets, rain, road trip, snow, stranded, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, travels with charley, walk of fame, weather
Neither did Marley, Benji, White Fang, Hachiko, Snoopy, Lady, Tramp or Air Bud.
With the debut of “Marmaduke” last week, MovieTickets.com polled moviegoers to see which doggy superstar reigns supreme — and no, Marmaduke didn’t make the list, either.
Beethoven was tapped as Hollywood’s top dog with 28 percent of the vote, while Old Yeller came in a close second with 24 percent. Also in the top five were Hooch, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.
In case you’ve never visited, ohmidog! offers a fine selection of dog movies in our Amazon affiliate store.
We’ve got one for dog books, too.
Posted by John Woestendiek June 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, beethoven, dog, dog books, dogs, entertainment, fans, hollywood, hooch, lassie, marmaduke, movie dogs, movies, ohmidog!, old yeller, pets, poll, rin tin tin, top five