Ruddell Bird "Rudd" Weatherwax (September 23, 1907 – February 25, 1985) was an American actor, animal trainer, and breeder. He and his brother Frank are best remembered for training dogs for motion pictures and television. Their collie, Pal, became the original Lassie, handled by Rudd for the 1943 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film Lassie Come Home. He also handled the dogs for the Lassie television series which ran from 1954 to 1974, and trained Spike for the 1957 feature film Old Yeller. After his death, his son, Robert, took over the training of the animals
Weatherwax and Lassie, 1955
Ruddell Bird Weatherwax
September 23, 1907
|Died||February 25, 1985 77)(aged|
|Other names||Ruddel Weatherwax|
Pal became a movie star through a weather-related event. MGM, which had decided to use a show collie trained by Frank Inn in the movie, took advantage of a massive flooding of the Sacramento River in northern California to obtain some spectacular footage for the film. Their fancy collie was still in training, so MGM hired Pal as a stand-in for the river scene. Although the work was actually considered complicated for an animal actor, the dog performed exceptionally well. According to legend, after seeing the first prints, the head of MGM, Louis B. Mayer, stated that "Pal had entered the water, but Lassie had come out," and a new star was born.
Weatherwax was posthumously inducted into the New Mexico Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2012. He had two sons, Jackie and Bob. He was the uncle of Ken Weatherwax, who played Pugsley Addams in The Addams Family television series.
- Beck, Ken; Clark, Jim (2002). The Encyclopedia of TV Pets. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press, part of Thomas Nelson, Inc. ISBN 9781418557379.
- Steve, Rushin (2005). The Caddie Was a Reindeer. Grove Press. p. 134. ISBN 9780802142115.
- Stall, Sam (2011). 100 Dogs Who Changed Civilization. Quirk Books. ISBN 9781594745874.
- Moser, Margaret (July 11, 1997). "Here, Girl!". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
FOUR FEET TO FAME: A Hollywood Dog Trainer's Journey, by Bob Weatherwax and Richard Lester. Published 2017 by BearManor Media. ISBN 978-1-62933-092-1.