Gromit, Snoopy, Toto – they all come close, but none will ever eclipse Lassie as the greatest fictional dog to come out of Hollywood.
During the 20th century her heroic exploits spawned a string of feature films, three television series, a novel and a radio show before the border collie made a tentative retirement after her final appearance in a 2005 remake of Lassie Come Home.
But can you teach an old dog new tricks? That’s the question on DreamWorks Animation’s lips since their announcement of plans to revive the beloved canine for a whole new generation of cinema-goers.
Lassie, who is one of only three animals to be awarded their own star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, first appeared in a short story in a US magazine back in 1938, although her original inspiration is thought to have come from a 1859 Elizabeth Gaskell story, The Half-brothers.
Her courageous acts soon had Hollywood interested and she went on to star alongside the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Roddy McDowall and June Lockhart in a series of MGM feature films.
DreamWorks, the team behind Shrek and Kung Fu Panda, paid $155 million last year to acquire the Classic Media catalogue of titles, which includes Lassie as well as George of the Jungle and Frosty the Snowman. Speaking of his recent acquisition, chief executive, Jeffrey Katzenberg said, “She’s heroic, she’s loyal, she really is man’s best friend. She’s the single most recognised pet in the world.”
But the questions is, after countless nail-biting escapades, will Lassie finally get the chance to lead a rescue mission down a well? Watch this space…
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