Like all stars, they shine bright until one day they go out. Uggie was a canine star that left us in 2015, but his brightness will remain in the memory of all those who knew his story.
Uggie not only shined in all of his artistic work, but also transcended the screen and originated an unusual phenomenon in social networks. Because of his talent, his ability to work, and the affection that the public had for him, we want to remember him at his best.
Despite his long career as an actor in movies and commercials, Uggie was not acclaimed as a big star until his role in “The Artist”, the French silent movie that won an Oscar Academy Award in 2012.
The eleven year-old Jack Russell Terrier delighted everybody playing the role of the unconditionally loyal dog of George Valentin, a silent movie superstar who saw his career shattered by the beginning of the sound films era.
His performance was highly praised by both the public and critics, who considered Uggie to be on the same level as his human co-stars and promoted the idea of an Oscar for Best Non-Human actor. The was even a Facebook campaign called “Consider Uggie” that was launched to gather support for his Oscar nomination. It was Uggie’s exceptional body-language skills that allowed him to win the Palm Dog Award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival for his performance in “The Artist”
Even though some critics blamed the pooch for stealing the show, he certainly contributed to the success of the film, which won three Golden Globes, seven of its twelve BAFTASs nominations, five Oscars, six Cesars and earned more than $130 million since its release. Uggie had to make a space in his busy agenda to attend the 2012 Oscars Awards Ceremony, where he shared the spotlight with the cast of his multi-awarded movie. For this special occasion, he wore a leather collar with an 18-carat yellow gold bone with his name engraved on it, designed by Swiss jeweler Chopard.
Uggie’s trainer, Omar Van Muller, confirmed that he was not surprised by his performance. Due to his extraordinary talent and vast experience, Uggie already knew most of the tricks he had to perform in the movie, which allowed the director to make some improvements. For example, it was written in the script “the dog was dead”, but Uggie knew how to make the scene more dramatic by walking backwards before playing dead, so the director decided to include this in the film.
Like many movie stars, Uggie had a turbulent past. He was abandoned twice by his owners because he was very active and anxious. Right before being sent to a dog shelter, he was adopted by Van Muller who started training him together with his other six dogs, who also work in the film industry. According to Van Muller, Uggie’s energetic spirit, which caused his bad reputation and rejection in the past, was an asset for his acting career. He was very smart, willing to work, and audacious, so he was never afraid or shy on the movie or TV set. He was also a great skater as he has shown on “The Incredible Dog Show” and on Ellen Degeneres’ TV show.
His career includes commercials, TV shows, magazines, and movies. Among his filmography we can find minor roles in “What’s Up Scarlett” (2005), “Wassup Rockers” (2005), and “Mr. Fix It” (2006). In 2011, his career took off when he played “Queenie” in “Water For The Elephants” co-starring with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson, as well as the character that made him famous, Jack, the adorable dog in “The Artist”. In 2012, after his retirement, he appeared as himself on the film “The campaign”.
During the filming of “The Artist”, Uggie started to experience some shaking as symptoms of a neurological illness that forced his retirement after he became the first dog to leave his paw prints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on the historic Hollywood Walk of Fame. Since then, he rested a lot and did less intense jobs, until he died in August 2015, leaving his mark on the hearts of all those who enjoyed his talent.