Thursday, January 10, 2013
Being an animal lover, my favorite character in quite a few television shows and movies is often of the four-legged variety. This was certainly the case with the long running TV show Frasier, which aired from September 16, 1993 to May 13, 2004. In my opinion Eddie, a feisty Jack Russell terrier, stole the show. Niles, Frasier’s brother, ran a close second.
Eddie’s real name was Moose and he was born in Florida on Christmas Eve, 1990. He was the youngest and the biggest puppy in the litter and, once he went to his forever home, his antics proved to be too much for his original owners to handle.
Moose was surrendered by his owners because he was so mischievous. He had a habit of getting into trouble; he chased cats and climbed trees. He dug and barked and destroyed things. He was always escaping, running away and ruining property. One time he got out and chased a neighbor’s horses, which caused quite a stir. Another time, he got out and killed a neighbor's cat. That was the last straw.
Luckily for this overly energetic Jack Russell terrier, he ended up with Mathilde Halberg, a Los Angeles dog trainer who worked for a show-business animal company. She rescued him in the early 1990s, saving him from the pound or worse. That’s when Moose’s luck changed.
With training and a focused outlet for his energetic natural drives, Moose started to calm down. After only six months of training, he was cast on Frasier as retired policeman Marty Crane’s dog.
Moose had the ability to fix Kelsey Grammer with an unwavering stare, which became a running sight gag on the sitcom. BBC Entertainment reports that when the TV script required Moose to lick one of his co-stars, sardine oil was slathered on the actor where the dog was supposed to lick. John Mahoney, the actor who played Marty Crane, told the press that sometimes liver pâté was dabbed behind the actors’ ears to achieve the required response.
The actors on Frasier all raved about Moose’s professionalism. Mahoney was once quoted as saying the dog was like a robot, that he was a consummate professional who worked hard at learning his part and doing it well.
During the height of Frasier's popularity, Moose received more fan mail than any of his human counterparts. In 1994, Kelsey Grammer won an Emmy for best actor in a comedy. In his acceptance speech, he acknowledged the canine character of Eddie’s contribution to the show when he held up the statue and claimed: “Most importantly, Moose, this is for you.”
Playing the rascal that always put Frasier into uncomfortable circumstances wasn’t Moose’s only turn at showbiz. He starred in the 2000 Frankie Muniz and Kevin Bacon feature film My Dog Skip, where he played the older Skip. His son Enzo, who resembled Moose closely, played the younger Skip in the film and went on to replace his dad on Frasier when Moose retired.
Not only was Moose appreciated by fellow Frasier actors, he got rave reviews from his co-stars in the My Dog Skip movie, too. Mark Johnson said that Moose never failed them and that he wished he worked with actors who were as well prepared as the dog always was. He went on to say:
“There was not a trick or a piece of business we asked the dog to do that he wasn't able to do; it was uncanny. The trainers were so good, they could stop him on a mark, he could lift his leg, he could do a somersault. I expected to see him reading The New York Times any day.”
Brian Hargrove wrote a biography about Moose, aka Eddie titled “My Life as a Dog.” The book description says: What can you say about Moose? A lovable canine? A consummate professional? A bright star in the Hollywood universe? Yes, you could say all those things. Or you could just say that he was the little dog that could. The little dog that never took no for an answer. The little dog that never said “I can't,” but always, “why can't I?”
The beloved Moose lived a long and happy life. He died in 2006 at the age of 16.
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell