“We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz…” OK, OK, we know you know the rest of the song. You might even know the little dance, too.
Everyone is familiar with the iconic song from the 1939 Hollywood classic, The Wizard of Oz. For most of us, this movie made us want a pair of Dorothy’s ruby red slippers… not to mention snuggle up next to her loyal sidekick, Toto.
While Dorothy and her friends, The Scarecrow, The Tin Man, and The Cowardly Lion, are each brave in the film, it is clear that the true, unsung hero is Toto.
Toto was portrayed by a Cairn Terrier “pup actress” named Terry, who, as it turns out, is one of the most prolific dog actors of all time — with 18 acting credits, according to IMDB.
Terry was born in Altadena, California in 1933. Her owners began training her after her anxiety led to one too many accidents inside. She was eventually coached by legendary trainer Carl Spitz, who used an innovative technique of silent hand signals to direct dogs on film sets. Spitz also started the Hollywood Dog Training School in 1927, which still exists to this day!
With her training in tow, Terry began to build an impressive resume, starring alongside Shirley Temple in 1934’s Bright Eyes and in Fritz Lang’s Fury (1936), one of the filmmaker’s first American dramas. But the film that would make her world famous was, of course, The Wizard of Oz.
On the film’s set, Terry earned a lucrative salary of $125 dollars per week Adjusted for inflation, that would now be $2,150! Terry even has an autobiography (yes, you’re reading that correctly), entitled I, Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, The Dog Who Was Toto.
Back in 1939, there was no CGI, so Terry did all of her own stunts. As you may recall, there is a lot of action in The Wizard of Oz, so Terry was one busy pup! Luckily, she only suffered one injury, when an actor accidentally stepped on her paw. She recuperated at co-star Judy Garland’s house, where the two formed an even closer bond. Just two weeks later, Terry returned to the set to resume production. What a trooper!
In 1945, Terry passed away at the age of 12, but she has left a legacy that will never be forgotten as one of the greatest dogs to ever grace the silver screen.
After all, both onscreen and off, Terry had it all: brains, courage, and heart!