Jigger, And His Famous Dad – Asta (Oops – I mean Grandad!)

19 May

When my Dad and his brother were little boys, they had a dog named Jigger.

They also at the time had a bunny – that’s my Uncle holding the bunny on the left, and my Dad with Jigger on the right.

But, this story is not about the bunny.

This story is about Jigger.

You see, Jigger came from a line of Doggy Royalty.

His Dad was Asta. (added later: I just found out that Asta was actually Jigger’s Grandad, not Dad.)

Asta – also known as Skippy.

According to Wikipedia:

Skippy aka Asta (born 1931 or 1932; retired 1939) was a Wire-Haired Fox Terrier dog actor who appeared in dozens of movies during the 1930s. Skippy starred in many movies. He is best known for the role of the pet dog “Asta” in the 1934 detective comedy The Thin Man, starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. Skippy’s name was changed to Asta after the first Thin Man film was released and he was listed under the name Asta in the Thin Man sequels he appeared in.”

Maybe my Dad will comment in The Comments Section of today’s blog, and give us the details of Jigger – I do not know how he became part of my Dad’s family.

He was beloved.

As was Asta.

There is a website all about Asta – called “I Love Asta”.

Here’s a picture from a film with Asta; I don’t know the film but I love the picture:

And, thanks to eBay, here are some film posters that show Asta:

and


Wikipedia also tells us:

“Skippy also made a hit as “Mr. Smith” in the 1937 film The Awful Truth, where his character was the subject of a custody dispute between characters portrayed by Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. (In an interesting gaffe, at one point when Cary Grant wrestles and plays with “Mr. Smith,” he can be heard distinctly calling him “Skippy.”)

In Bringing Up Baby (1938) Skippy played “George,” the bone-hiding pup belonging to Katharine Hepburn’s aunt; and in Topper Takes A Trip (1938), he was “Mr. Atlas”.

The American Magazine detailed Skippy’s professional life in an August 1938 profile of the East kennels, titled “A Dog’s Life in Hollywood”:

Movie actresses stroke Skippy lovingly. They coo at him and murmur endearing terms in his ears. He takes it all in his stride, because, what with contracts, options, and exacting work before the movie cameras, he hasn’t much time for the attentions of Hollywood’s most beautiful stars. But if he’s paid for it and given the proper cue he will snuggle in the arms of the loveliest of stars, gaze into her limpid eyes, and, if necessary—howl.
Skippy, a smart little wire-haired terrier, is one of the leading stars in pictures. He leads a glamorous life—a dog’s life de luxe. He is rated as one of the smartest dogs in the world, and when contracts are signed for his appearance in a picture he gets $200 a week for putting his paw-print on the dotted line. His trainer gets a mere $60.
His owner is Mrs. Gale Henry East, once a prominent movie comedienne. … “When Skippy has to drink water in a scene, the first time he does it he really drinks. If there are retakes and he’s had all the water he can drink, he’ll go through the scene just as enthusiastically as though his throat were parched, but he’ll fake it. If you watch closely you’ll see he’s just going through the motions of lapping and isn’t really picking up water at all. And, because he has a sense of humor, he loves it when you laugh and tell him you’ve caught him faking but that it’s all right with you.
“Treat a dog kindly and he’ll do anything in the world for you.”

: )

I just LOVE that magazine article!

Dad, please tell us all about Jigger! How did he come into your family, and how did you know Asta’s people??

xoxo,

SAllan

P.S. – my Dad commented on Jigger and Asta – read what he had to say in the “Comments Section”!

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7 Responses to “Jigger, And His Famous Dad – Asta (Oops – I mean Grandad!)”

  1. Johnny D May 19, 2011 at 11:45 am #

    Nice movie posters!

    There was also a “Thin Man” television program in the late 1950s with Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk. They also had an “Asta”, but I’ll bet it was a different Asta than the one in the movies.

    Trivia: “Asta” is a recurring answer in the New York Times crossword puzzles.

    • sallanscorner May 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

      Yes, Wikipedia says that Asta retired in 1939.

      Thanks for the trivia!

  2. doose May 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Actually, Jigger was Asta’s Grandson. Our next door neighbor when we lived in Miami was Colonel Ordonez ( a story in of it’s own). He had a female wire hair terrier also named Asta who was the daughter of the movie Asta. He bred her with a registered terrier and from that litter came Jigger.(my brother and I gave him that name). He had straight hair, so wasn’t of much value as a wire hair terrier so the Colonel gave him to us. He was the worlds best and smartest dog. May he rest in peace up in Doggie Heaven.

    • sallanscorner May 20, 2011 at 8:28 am #

      Thanks for adding the details and correcting me on the lineage 🙂
      How long did Jigger live – what happened to him? I hope he lived a great, long life!
      I’m going to have to try to find Colonel Ordonez on Ancestry.com. I guess there’s no way that you can recall his first name??

      • doose May 20, 2011 at 10:16 am #

        Jigger did live a long and happy life. He moved with us when we moved to Atlanta. I don’t know exactly how old he was when we let him out 1 day and he disappeared. We found his body in a field not too far from the house. He didn’t have a mark on him, so we figured that he was either poisoned or his old heart just gave out.
        Don’t know that I ever heard Colonel Ordonez’s name. Everyone just called him “The Colonel”.

  3. jaceron November 14, 2012 at 8:54 pm #

    Hi! I am a college student doing a research topic on Asta and I was wondering where you found the “A Dog’s Life in Hollywood” article from The American Magazine? I’ve been looking all over for an online copy (and even a hard copy!) but I can’t seem to find it! Any help is much appreciated!

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