|Rin Tin Tin in the 1929 film Frozen River|
By Langley Cornwell
Animals don’t really care about money, but nevertheless, when it comes to animal actors, they do indeed get paid. Some animal actors receive a hefty fee for their performances, and that pay would make any human drool. Who are the highest paid animal actors? Check these out.
Rin Tin Tin the Dog
This beloved pooch starred in 26 films for Warner Brothers and commanded a cool $6,000 each week. In today’s money, that would equal $78,000 per week! With that income, he could feed himself and thousands of his friends a healthy diet of CANIDAE dog food. Rin Tin Tin earned Warner Brothers so much money, in fact, that he was responsible for bringing the studio back from the brink of bankruptcy in 1930. Rin Tin Tin was a German shepherd dog that was rescued from a battlefield during World War I by an American soldier named Lee Duncan. Duncan trained “Rinty,” his pet name for his dog. Rin Tin Tin became a beloved movie icon and was rumored to have received the most votes for the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1929, but the Academy would only give the award to a human. The original Rin Tin Tin died in 1932. (Read more about this famous animal actor in The True Story of Rin Tin Tin).
Keiko the Whale
This killer whale made a killing financially, thanks to his depiction of Willy in the Free Willy films. He earned a grand total of over $36 million for his role! Eventually, Keiko gained his own freedom in 2002, as he was returned to the open ocean. Sadly, Keiko died in 2003 in Norway from a bout with pneumonia, but his work lives on after his passing.
Bart the Bear
This big guy starred in a number of roles in the 80s and 90s, and was reportedly paid $1 million for his work in the movie The Edge. Bart was an Alaskan brown bear of the Kodiak bear subspecies. He starred in movies such as The Great Outdoors with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd, and Legends of the Fall with Brad Pitt. He earned more than $6 million during his entire career but passed away in 2000 from cancer at the age of 23.
|Pal as Lassie|
Pal the Dog
Pal was the first canine to play Lassie the hero dog on the big and small screen, and earned as high as $4,000 per week. Today, that would equal a whopping $51,000 per week! Woof-woof! Pal lived until the ripe old age of 18, but passed away in 1958. He sired a long line of Rough-Coat Collies that would follow in his footsteps by portraying the legendary Lassie. (Read more about Lassie in How Lassie Became One of the World’s Most Popular Dogs).
Moose the Dog
Moose, a Jack Russell Terrier, played Eddie in the television series Frasier, and reportedly earned $10,000 per episode during his time on the show. As he became older, his son Enzo eventually took over the role. Moose passed away from natural causes in 2006 at the age of 15.
Crystal the Monkey
Perhaps the highest paid animal actor in today’s times is Crystal the Monkey. Crystal is a Capuchin monkey and has starred in television and more than 20 feature films. You may recognize Crystal from The Hangover Part II and Night at the Museum. But for starring in the television series Animal Practice, this monkey was set to earn the sweet sum of $12,000 per episode or $264,000 for a full season. Not too shabby for a 20-year-old monkey! Unfortunately for Crystal, Animal Practice was canceled due to low ratings, but the monkey shouldn’t have to worry as she seems to have plenty of work available to her.
Animal actors certainly earn their pay as they have to be trained to recognize cues and instructions. While most of these high paid animal actors have passed on, their legacies and memories remain.
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell
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