TKO JE OLD YELLER?
A large, yellow, flop eared pup, with extra large feet. That description describes the dog Spike when Bill McNally saw him at the Van Nuys animal shelter. Bill told Frank Weatherwax about the dog. He looked intelligent, so Frank rescued him for three dollars.
In his early years, Spike didn't show signs of greatness. He appeared clumsy and ungainly. His bark was more of a yelp. But he took readily to training and was always ready to please his master. Overnight he seemed to grow into his feet and develop a mature bark.
Frank Weatherwax' wife, Connie, had a routine of trading back copies of Cosmopolitan with her sister for issues of The Saturday Evening Post. One day after such a trade, she noticed that the copies of the Post which she had just received contained a three part story called "Old Yeller" by Fred Gibson. From the illustrations and the description of the dog, Connie knew that this story was made for Spike. She was enthusiastic as she told Frank about it.
The next day when Frank Weatherwax picked up the mail he opened the Hollywood Reporter and read that Walt Disney had bought the movie rights to Old Yeller. At Connie's urging Frank called the Disney Studios and arranged to show Spike. Disney did not like Spike. Spike had been raised around children and was used to playing and having fun. He did not know how to act vicious. It took weeks of hard training, but Frank convinced Disney that Spike could do the job.
Walt Disney suggested that Frank lighten up a few dark spots around Spikes nose, and trim the neck hair. After that, Spike become "Old Yeller".
"Old Yeller" is not the only movie Spike has done. He can also be seen in "A Dog of Flanders" Paramount, 1959 with David Ladd and Donald Crisp and was in several episodes of the T. V. series "The Westerner" staring Brian Kieth.
Spikes son played "Rontu" in "Island of the Blue Dolphins", and his grandson appeared with Steve McQueen and Robert Preston in "Junior Bonner"..