Uggie, The Scene-Stealing Canine Star of ‘The Artist,’ Dead at 13
The Artist was never an easy sell. A black-and-white silent film made in 2011? With a cast of French actors unknown in America? A big part of what helped this unique project crossover with U.S. audiences, connect with viewers all over the world, and even win an Oscar for Best Picture was Uggie, the adorable Jack Russell Terrier owned by the film’s main character.
Obedient, intelligent, and cute as hell, Uggie stole scene after scene from his human co-stars, and in the wake of The Artist’s surprise success, arguably became just as famous as actors Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo. Uggie walked the red carpet at every awards show, did the talk-show circuit, and even wrote his own book (with help, I imagine). It was a pretty good life for a Terrier, but it sadly came to an end last Friday, when, TMZ reports, Uggie was put to sleep after a prostate illness. He was 13 years old (about 70 in dog years).
After struggling to find a home as a puppy, Uggie was likely destined for the pound when he was rescued by his owner and trainer, Omar Von Muller. He later credited Uggie’s success to his fearlessness:
One of the most important thing is that he was not afraid of things. That is what makes or breaks a dog in the movies, whether they are afraid of lights, and noises and being on sets. He gets rewards, like sausages, to encourage him to perform, but that is only a part of it. He works hard.
Uggie’s onscreen career also included parts in Wassup Rockers and Water for Elephants, and even a stint as a spokesmandog for Nintendo. But his performance in The Artist, which was the subject of numerous fan-organized awards campaigns, is the one that will ensure him immortality. He was, by all accounts, a very good boy.