IS IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO IMAGINE EXACTLY HOW POPULAR RIN TIN TIN WAS DURING THE HEIGHT OF HIS FAME? No, we just can't appreciate how big a star he was and how seriously he was taken all over the world. Rin Tin Tin was much more popular than, say, Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt ever were. Everyone either wanted their own German Shepherd or they wanted a signed photo or some connection to Rin Tin Tin. Even President Herbert Hoover got a German Shepherd. New York Mayor Jimmy Walker gave Rin Tin Tin a key to the city. And there's no doubt that his popularity and success saved Warner Bros. from bankruptcy.

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YOU WRITE THAT RIN TIN TIN WAS A "TRUE COMPANION FOR THE COMPANIONLESS." IS THAT HIS TRUE LEGACY? Yes, I think in some ways it is. I believe dogs have a real ability to connect with people who feel lost in the world. Rin Tin Tin embodied something even greater than just a friend. He was seen as a protector. It's almost like when you have a friend in school who's the biggest kid in the class and who will always have your back when you get in trouble. There was something magical about him that gave him lasting appeal through so many changes in the culture of the country.

YOUR ACCOUNT OF THE DEATH OF THE FIRST RIN TIN TIN IS INCREDIBLY MOVING. DID IT SURPRISE YOU TO SEE THE AMOUNT OF ATTENTION IT RECEIVED? Not really, simply because he was so popular and well loved. United Press International broke into radio programs to announce the news. The next day there was an hour-long tribute broadcast coast-to-coast. It's not really clear what Lee Duncan's true reaction was. In his memoirs he sort of just glossed over it, but I think he must have been devastated. And I don't think he truly ever accepted it. I think Lee Duncan wanted to continue the legacy of Rin Tin Tin forever.

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