Monday, April 25, 2011

Pets on Television Shows: Fred the Cockatoo, Arnold the Pig and others

There has been a variety of pets on television shows through the years.  Some of them have made a stronger impression than others.  TV Banter has selected some of the more notable ones.   In no particular order, here is a rundown of some of the most memorable television pets. 

Fred the Cockatoo with Blake

Baretta, starring Robert Blake, was a detective drama.  The series ran from 1975 until 1978 on the ABC network.  Blake played Detective Anthony “Tony” Baretta, a plainclothes cop who lived in an apartment at a decrepit hotel with Fred, his pet cockatoo.
In real life, Fred was called LaLa (or Lalah).  He was given that name because of his tendency to repeat the phrase ``La-la-la-la-la.``  LaLa  was born in Hong Kong and owned by an animal trainer named Ray Berwick.
LaLa originally spoke Chinese, but learned English quickly.  Berwick taught his bird several clever tricks including pedalling a bicycle and imitating the sound of a dog or cat.  During the 1980, the feisty cockatoo was featured in Ray Berwick’s animal show at the Universal Studio’s Tour in southern California and at the San Diego Wild Animal Park.  LaLa is now deceased, but lived until about the age of 70.

Grammer with Moose a.k.a. Eddie

Frasier was a comedy series about the life of a Seattle psychiatrist and radio talk show host named Dr. Frasier Crane (played by Kelsey Grammer).  It aired on NBC from 1993 until 2004.  Frasier’s father, Martin Crane (John Mahoney), was a retired detective from the Seattle Police Department.  Martin owned a Jack Russell terrier named Eddie. 
The part of Eddie was shared by a dog named named Moose and Moose’s son, Enzo.  Moose died in June of 2006 at the Los Angeles home of his trainer, Mathilde Halberg.  According to Halberg, Moose was 16 at the time of his death.  She described the dog as having “incredible charisma” and as a “free spirit.”  During the show’s heyday, Moose was so popular that he received more mail than any of his human counterparts.
Moose appeared in 192 episodes of Frasier from 1993 until his retirement in 2003, a year before the show ended.  His fictional owner, Martin Krane, declared that the dog’s full name was “Eddie Spaghetti” because “he has worms.”  In 1994 interview with Animal Press magazine, John Mahoney lauded the Jack Russell as a “consummate professional who works hard learning his tricks.”  A running gag on the series was Moose’s tendency to stare at Kelsey Grammer for long periods.
Here are the names of some other television dogs:
On the adventure series Hart to Hart, Jonathan and Jennifer Hart (Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers) owned a pooch named Freeway.  The Harts’ pet was named Freeway because he was a stray they had discovered wandering on the freeway.  The part of Freeway was played by a Lowchen (German for “Little Lion”) called Charlie.  Charlie originally discovered in a dog pound.

Wagner, Powers & "Freeway"
On the long-running family comedy, My Three Sons (1960-1972), the Douglas family owned a sheepdog named Tramp.  Tramp, played by Spud the Dog, was a shaggy, off-white mutt.  Spud was trained by well known breeder and animal trainer Frank Inn.

My Three Son's cast with "Tramp"


GA's Eb Dawson (Tom Lester) & Arnold

Arnold the Pig was featured on the CBS sitcom Green Acres.  Green Acres, starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor, ran from 1965 until 1971.  Arnold, an American Yorkshire, was extremely talented.  He could write his name, play the piano, and change the channels on the television (He was a fan of The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite).  Arnold was treated as a son by Fred Ziffel and his wife Doris, farmers in the small town of Hooterville.
Several different pigs filled the roll of Arnold Ziffel during Green Acres’ six-year run.  The number is uncertain, but it is estimated that there were about a dozen.  Frank Inn was their trainer.   In fact, Inn trained almost all the animals on the popular rural-based sitcoms of the era, including Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies.  Frank, who passed away in 2002, requested that the ashes of Arnold the Pig and Higgins, who played “Dog” on Petticoat Junction be buried with him.
There is an urban myth that the cast and crew of Green Acres feasted on Arnold at the show’s farewell party.  This is simply not true.  Frank Inn stated that none of the animals was eaten.  According to Inn, they were all allowed to live out their natural lives on a farm.  Feel better now, animal lovers?
Note:  There will be future postings about television animals in TV Banter.  
- Joanne


  1. Lala (Fred) the Cockatoo was born in Hong Kong in 1967. She would have been approximately 45-47 yrs old, not 70...

    1. I used The Encyclopedia of TV Pets: A Complete History of Television's Greatest Animal Stars as my source. It says that Lala "was born in Hong Kong and discovered in 1967 by animal trainer Ray Berwick, whose avian credits included The Bird Man of Alcatraz, The Birds, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull." Berwick's protege, Mark Mitchell, is quoted in this encyclopedia as saying that "Lala went on to live a long life, and after Baretta, performed at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. He was full grown when Ray got it and lived to be about seventy."