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Biography

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Overview (1)

Date of Birth 1930Faith, South Dakota, USA

Mini Bio (1)

Tuffy was born in 1930 in a hole in a haystack in the Cheyenne Indian Reservation on what they called Red Coat Creek, near Faith, South Dakota. Cowboy-owner Ger Orvedahl decided to make that little black, white, and tan Australian shepherd/collie mix the best-trained and most useful cow dog in the area. Ger believed in obedience and discipline. He began training Tuffy when he was six weeks old with food commands. Tuffy was not allowed to eat unless Ger told him he could, and he had to stop eating when Ger so commanded. Tuffy learned to bring many articles as they were called for by name, including a raw egg from the barn. Tuffy was often sent to lead the horse to Ger. Later Tuffy learned many hand signals by first using them with spoken commands. Although Tuffy's training was utilitarian, Ger recognized the theatrical potential of Tuffy's stunts. Tuffy's first booked show was on a bargain day Saturday in Faith, South Dakota, probably in 1932. The show was announced over a speaker, and people gathered on Main Street. The show consisted mainly of the food stunts; bringing articles such as a tobacco can, a handkerchief, an ear of corn, and a wrapped package of meat; and leading the horse from about 75 feet down the street. People were amazed at what a common cow dog could be taught, and Ger received some offers to buy, but by this time he was beginning to realize that Tuffy could be more valuable as something besides a cow dog. Ger took Tuffy to Hollywood in March 1935. Early months were lean. Their break came when Tully Marshall stopped at the filling station adjoining the place where they were staying. While his car was being serviced, the veteran actor made friends first with Tuffy and then with Ger. Marshall mentioned the dog's talents to a production manager at Paramount, who gave Tuffy a tryout. On September 29 Tuffy was given a minor part in _Nevada (1936)_, a western picture. The next film that he appeared in, also a western, was Drift Fence (1936). These films were shot at Pine Knot, in the California mountains. Producer Walter Wanger and director Henry Hathaway came to that location to film the picture The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936). After seeing Tuffy work on "Nevada" and "Drift Fence," Wanger had a part written into the script of "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" for him. Originally, the script had no part for a dog. Over the next few years, Tuffy appeared in numerous films, including two serials, Hawk of the Wilderness (1938) and Daredevils of the Red Circle (1939). He also played the title role in The Mighty Treve (1937), a movie based on an Albert Payson Terhune novel. He has a strong role in four Jack Luden westerns: Rolling Caravans (1938), Stagecoach Days (1938), Pioneer Trail (1938), and Phantom Gold (1938). Parts in those movies were written to showcase his many talents. Tuffy left Hollywood in 1941 after what can best be described as a nervous breakdown during the filming of _Brigham Young (1941)_. He gave shows and made appearances at movie theaters showing "The Mighty Treve" until 1946, when, at the age of 16, he had to be put down.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jerry Orvedahl <stringer-orvedahl@erols.com>

Trivia (3)

Sylvia Sidney once offered Ger Orvedahl $2,500 for Tuffy. Ger turned her down.
Tuffy's name is misspelled "Tuffie" in the credits of "Daredevils of the Red Circle."
Scientists at UCLA tested Tuffy's intelligence. Tuffy passed the tests with flying colors. Dr. Knight Dunlap declared, "He may not be the most intelligent dog in the world, but he is certainly the most intelligent I have ever seen."

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