When I began my research of dogs in the movies, I should have named the series “Dogs in the World of Entertainment.”
The first dog of all must be “Nipper.”
Nipper was a smooth haired Fox Terrier who has graced every home in the world for the past one hundred years. Born in the1800’s and so named because of his tendency to nip the backs of visitor’s legs.
When his master, musician Mark Barraud died, Nipper was adopted by Mark Barraud’s younger brother Francis, who was an artist. Nipper listened intently to a Phonograph, a cylinder recording and playing machine of “His Master’s Voice” a well-known symbol of RCA (Recording Company of America) would tilt his head and cock his ears as he listened to the voice of his dead master playing on the phonograph.
In 1890 Francis became so enchanted by Nipper’s alert behavior, that he decided to paint Nipper in the cock eared pose and entitled the painting “His Master’s Voice.” Francis then sent the painting to the Royal Academy, but it was rejected. Undaunted by their decision, he decided to patent the painting instead. Francis then offered the painting to a small phonograph manufacturer, (the fore-runner of the record player) “The Gramophone Company”. They liked the painting and bought it.
The Gramophone Company liked the concept of the picture as it depicted the fidelity of sound, quality of the merchandise and the loyalty of the dog listening to the voice of his dead master. Over the years E.M.I Records adopted the visual image as their trademark, which has since been released to RCA. However the original painting still hangs in the board room at the E.M.I Recording Studios in London.
“His Master’s Voice” symbol once advertised RCA Victrola. This was one of the first disc players and has been etched in the minds of millions of people from around the world to this day. The largest advertising campaign was in 1954 when a Chicago company built a 25 feet, 4 ton Nipper. This was to top the RCA building in Albany, New York. It is still currently the largest man-made dog in the world and can be seen over five miles away.
Brian John Beacock
From “Friends of Mario Lanza”, n°61, October 2007