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Biography

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Overview (3)

Born in Camby, Indiana, USA
Died in Saugus, California, USA  (natural causes)
Birth NameElias Franklin Freeman

Mini Bio (1)

Frank Inn was a legendary animal trainer whose menagerie won a total of 40 Patsy Awards, the animal kingdom's equivalent of the Oscar. The Patsy Award is given out by the American Humane Association's Hollywood branch and stands for Picture Animal Top Star of the Year. It was first given out in 1951, to Francis the Talking Mule. Frank Inn's Orangey the Cat, the only multiple-winning feline in Patsy history, won the second Patsy Award, in 1952 for his role as the eponymous Rhubarb (1951), the baseball team-owning cat.

Inn was born Elias Franklin Freeman on May 8, 1916 in Camby, Indiana to a Quaker Family. When he was 17 years old, he left home and lit out for Hollywood to seek his fame and fortune. In the mid-1930s, he was employed as a maintenance man by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in Culver City, California. One day, he was run over by a car in Culver City and pronounced dead. His body was given to a mortician's school to train students in the art of embalming. Thankfully, one of the students noticed that Frank was still alive.

Recovering from his injuries, the wheelchair-bound Frank was presented with a new pup whom he called "Jeep." It was to be the first animal he trained, as the pup was incontinent. When he returned to M-G-M, he gave animal trainer Henry East tips on how to get a dog to perform, and told him abut his own dog Jeep. Frank Inn went to work at M-G-M as a trainer and was invited to bring along his dog Jeep.

One of Inn's first jobs as an animal trainer was handling the dog who played Asta in "The Thin Man (1934)" movies. He was later employed by Frank and Rudd Weatherwax, and eventually worked with Pal the Dog, who originated the role of Lassie Come Home (1943) (the dog's proper name as it is of the "Come Home Collie" breed known for returning to its owners) for the Weatherwax brothers at M-G-M.

Orangey the Cat was Frank Inn's big breakthrough as an independent, winning the second Patsy Award ever handed out. Ten years later, Orangey won his second Patsy, playing "Cat" in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), the homeless feline described as a "poor slob without a name" by Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn). Other famous critters that Inn trained included Bernadette the Dog, who played "Cleopatra" on Jackie Cooper's TV series The People's Choice (1955) and the pig who played Arnold Ziffel on Green Acres (1965). Both Bernadette (who appeared on the cover of "TV Guide") and Arnold Ziffel were Patsy Award winners, Arnold winning a total of three Patsies.

Frank Inn also was responsible for training the animals that were part of Elly Mae Clampett's menagerie in The Beverly Hillbillies (1962) and the chimpanzees that starred in the children's TV show Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp (1970). Inn's most famous critter was Higgins the Dog, who appeared as a regular on the TV series "Petticoat Junction" (1964) (TV) and originated the role of _Benji (1974) on the Big Screen. As a TV personality, Higgins won the 1967 Patsy Award and appeared on the cover of "TV Guide" before ending his long life as a top movie star in the Benji movie series.

Frank Inn was the first inductee into the International Association of Canine Professionals' Hall of Fame. He died on July 27, 2002 at the age of 86.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Spouse (1)

Juanita Inn (1946 - 1996) ( her death) ( 3 children)

Trivia (8)

Mr. Inn rescued the original Benji from the Burbank Animal Shelter in 1960. It grew up to star in the TV series Petticoat Junction and came out of retirement years later to make the first Benji film, which was shot in McKinney. The popular movie series was created by Dallas' Joe Camp.
During a career spanning six decades, Mr. Inn trained animals for dozens of movies and TV shows. His students included Cleo the basset hound from the 1950s Jackie Cooper show People's Choice and the nearly 500 animals that appeared in The Beverly Hillbillies.
On all Benji films, TV series and specials, Mr. Inn, looking like a friendly sea captain, was a big, affable presence on the set. When Mr. Camp undertook the marketing of the original Benji himself, Mr. Inn and the pooch accompanied him on a cross-country tour, making friends and boosting the little film into a box-office winner.
Mr. Inn helped launch the careers of many other trainers, including Karl Lewis Miller, who handled the pig and other animals in the hit movie Babe.
"Most of the trainers today either worked for him or were trained by people who did work for him," Mr. Inn's daughter said.
Born in Camby, Ind., the son of a Quaker preacher was in California in the 1930s when he was hit by a car. Pronounced dead, he was taken to a morgue, where a student learning embalming detected a heartbeat. He trained his first puppy while healing.
He kept the cremated remains of Benji, Arnold, the dog Tramp from My Three Sons and other animals in urns at his home and had requested that the remains be placed in his casket when he died, his daughter Kathleen said.
Two daughters: Kathleen Hees and Lori Grajeda, one son: Ernest Freeman (deceased)

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