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Museum of Riverside

Museum of Riverside


Rin Tin Tin on Display Now

Exhibit Now Closed (Open through January 27, 2013)

Listen and watch as bestselling author, Susan Orlean, describes her reasons and research in writing her new book, Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend. The book is available in the Museum Gift Shop

View the CBS Story..... The Legend of Rin Tin Tin
View the Press Enterprise Article..... Rin Tin Tin Memorabilia Featured


About the Display
The display showcases various photographs of all the dogs from Rin Tin Tin I – IV; books, toys, and memorabilia, most of which, relate to the 1950s televsion series (a recent gift from Debra and John Hnath); and a firescreen depicting scenes from Mr. Duncan’s experience in France during World War I. The firescreen was hand-carved by Andre Farman and presented to Mr. and Mrs. Duncan as a gift. Plans for a complete exhibit expansion are upderway.

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend
When Lee Duncan, a young American soldier from California, found the pup in a bombed out kennel in France in 1918, he had little sense of how his life was about to change. At that moment all he could think of was that he had the dog he had wanted since he was a boy. He named the German shepherd pup, Rin Tin Tin after the good luck dolls French children fashioned for the American soldiers fighting in France. Lee returned from France and the war in 1919, bringing with him Rin Tin Tin and Rin’s sister, Nanette. Nanette died of pneumonia before they reached California.

In 1922, during a working dog competition at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, a friend of Lee’s who had developed a new slow-motion camera filmed Rin jumping and clearing an 11 ¾ feet high obstacle. For the next few months Lee shopped the footage of the leap around Hollywood, hoping to get Rin Tin Tin into the movies. The door-to-to-door method paid off with a small role as a sled dog in The Man from Hell’s River. Rin Tin Tin would go on to film more than 20 more movies and was one of Hollywood’s most popular stars, receiving 10,000 fan letters per month at the height of his popularity. Jack Warner, who with his three brothers founded Warner Brother’s studios, credited Rin Tin Tin with saving the company from bankruptcy more than once. Rin Tin Tin died in 1932.

In 1937, Lee Duncan bought ranch property in Riverside, California. He named it El Rancho Rin Tin Tin. The ranch was located near the Fairmount Park Golf Course on the banks of the Santa Ana River. There, with his wife Eva and daughter Carolyn. Lee raised a few head of cattle, some horses, and bred and trained three more generations of Rin Tin Tins. Rin, Tin Tin, Jr., known simply as “Junior” and Rin Tin Tin III, both had modest careers in films, but never achieved the success of the original—their father and grandfather, respectively. Rin III, with Lee Duncan, helped to train approximately 5000 dogs for war time service during World War II. Not until the advent of television and rise of TV westerns did the name of Rin Tin Tin again achieve the notoriety of the original star. The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin ran on ABC from 1954 to 1959 and told the story of the orphaned Rinty and his boy Rusty and their adoption by the men of the U. S. Cavalry’s Fort Apache, Arizona Territory, in the 1870s.

The year following the series last season, Lee Duncan died of heart disease. Many times over the years, Duncan had said, “There will always be a Rin Tin Tin.” And, he was right. The Rin Tin Tin bloodline continues to be bred in Texas. The kennels are called El Rancho Rin Tin Tin.

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3580 Mission Inn Avenue
Riverside, CA 92501

Phone: (951) 826-5273

Closed for Innovation
Heritage House
8193 Magnolia Ave.
Riverside, CA 92504

Open Sept (1st weekend after labor day) to June.

Monday - Thursday Closed
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Last Tour at 3:15 pm
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