September 11, 2015 | Posted in Famous TV & Movie Dogs

Beethoven-CoverThe 1992 film “Beethoven” is one of the most popular and highest-earning dog-themed films in history.   The sequel, “Beethoven 2” was also a huge success. These films were followed by a series of 5 other Beethoven-related movies.  But the star of the first two is the one who first captured the heart of filmgoers.

The dog actor who played the lovable but large St. Bernard was actually named Chris. His trainer was Karl Lewis Miller, who worked with other animal actors on such films as “K-9”, “Babe” and “Cujo”. Sadly, Chris passed away not long after completing “Beethoven 2” and producers wondered if they would find another dog to replace him.  As a matter of fact, Chris left very big pawprints to fill and several dogs were called upon in order to do what he’d done.

In subsequent films, three dogs performed certain tasks. One, named Benz, did most of the tricks and physical activities. Dolly (a female) acted well with puppies and children so she was called upon when they were used in certain scenes. And Boomer was the third “actor”, bringing to the set his particular skills which included drooling and doing unusual scenes like being covered in mud.

Although the films were all billed as family entertainment, they were not without controversy. In the original movie, veteran actor Dean Jones played an evil vet who stole pets and sold them to research laboratories. Veterinarians protested, saying they were being portrayed in a bad light. The protests didn’t last long and it was pointed out that the “Beethoven” movie was, after all, a movie!

In a 2010 poll, it was proven just how popular a film it was, when “Beethoven” outdid “Old Yeller” to be named favorite film dog.