Monday, October 12, 2009

BENJI 1 AND 2 ARE DEAD AND NO ONE BOTHERED TO TELL ME.


As a 38 yr. old male, I have no problem admitting that I bawled my eyes out when I saw Benji The Hunted in 1987. And yep, if you do the math that means I was a scant 17 years of age. What really gets me in the "weepy schoolgirl" gene, is that I recently discovered that there have been 3 Benji dogs…and 2 are dead.

It all started sometime in the early ‘60s when Frank Inn found a scrappy little mutt in a California animal shelter. Frank believed this golden, dark brown fluffy dog to be of miniature poodle, schnauzer and cocker spaniel decent. He named him Higgins and the rest is a tale straight out of Hollywood legend. In the mid 60s, Higgins went on to star in the hit TV shows Petticoat Junction and Green Acres, and the little known film Mooch Goes to Hollywood. Higgins then retired from the spotlight. Though in 1974 director Joe Camp convinced Higgins (at age 15) to come out of retirement to star in the first Benji feature. Camp even got Higgins to do his own stunts. Soon after the film’s release – Higgins died. Sadly the scrappy little mutt from Burbank never got to experience the true success of this soon to be franchise. However, he did get to father a daughter. Frank named her Benjean. Except for her ears (which the studio dyed for the films) she was the spitting image of dear old dad. And from 1977-1989, Benjean starred in 3 features and a bunch of TV specials. Her 1981 TV film Benji Takes a Dive in Marineland scored ratings gold. Sadly, Benjean too expired in the early 90s.

Today, Benji #3 is in no relation to the Higgins lineage. Joe Camp (creator of the Benji series) wound up doing a nationwide search to find the Benji-esque look-alike. He finally found her in a Gulfport Missippi shelter. So far B3 has starred in Benji: Off the Leash and is currently in production with Wild Mustangs. She also has her own podcast at Benji.com

If you don’t cry watching this pivotal BENJI THE HUNTED scene you’re an unfeeling, cold robot...

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6 comments:

  1. I'm watching Benji the first movie now. I'm sad these smart furry actors are gone.Higgins was aged in this one. He was at least 16.I grew up on these movies.Too bad Frank Inn has long passed as well. I loved the good old days. They don't make em like they used to.

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  2. I'm watching Benji the first movie now. I'm sad these smart furry actors are gone.Higgins was aged in this one. He was at least 16.I grew up on these movies.Too bad Frank Inn has long passed as well. I loved the good old days. They don't make em like they used to.

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  3. The dog from Benji Off the Leash is the fourth. Benjean had a son that didn't star in any films because Joe Camp's wife had a stroke and eventually died during that time period. He is pictured on the cover of a book called " Benji and Me" by Joe. In May 2016 Joe Camp introduced a new Benji ( one that actually looks like the original two) and passed the Benji movie making to his son Brandon.

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  4. Thank you, Christine! It sounds like you know a lot about the Benji dogs. I have been trying to research Benjean for several years now, and all I keep finding is "daughter of Higgins." By any chance, do you know what year Benjean was born, and what year she passed away? Higgins's life story is well-documented, and I wish Benjean's life story could be also. Thank you for letting us know that Benjean had a son!

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  5. Why not attempt to make contact with Joe Camp? I am sure he could tell you everything.

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