Friday, August 14, 2015

Culture | The Golden Uggie, Icon of the Ages...

One of the most adorable
of iconic Abercrombie & Fitch Models of all time, Uggie,
the forever-spirited Hollywood legend...

       AN IMMORTALIZED WONDER whose very spirited joyful heart garnered roaring acclaim as for being incontrovertibly outstanding amongst, and beyond, his fellow esteemed human peers, Uggie, the Jack Russell Terrier, was fated for eternal glory representative of the inherent wit, emotion, and energy compelling of the beloved four-legged, and all else non Homo sapiens, kind.

Birthed into the world in California on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2002, the little one proved fierce from the start: his first two separate owners found him rather too energetic and troublesome to their liking, rejected. And after happening being informed about the particular little one furthermore being headed for a dog pound (which would have, ultimately, possibly ended with being killed for lack of adoption), animal trainer Omar Von Muller took him in with the intention of serving as foster owner until a suitable new home was found. Nevertheless, he decided to keep Uggie...

"He was a crazy, very energetic puppy,[...a]nd who knows what would have happened to him if he gone to the dog pound. But he was very smart and very willing to work. One of the most important thing is that he was not afraid of things. That is what makes or breaks a dog in the movies, whether they are afraid of lights, and noises and being on sets. He gets rewards, like sausages, to encourage him to perform, but that is only a part of it. He works hard." - Omar Von Muller, The Telegraph, 2012

Intelligent and ever-energetic, Uggie trained brilliantly and, after the initial advertising campaigns bookings began rolling in, he broke into the film industry with appearances in What's Up, Scarlet (2005), Wassup Rockers (2005) and Mr. Fix It. (2006, starring David Boreanaz). Beginning in 2010, Uggie became part of "The Incredible Dog Show" which toured the United States and South America - his specialty was epic fun with the skateboard! That very year, Uggie was cast in his first major film, Water for Elephants (2011) starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christopher Waltz. His performance as "Queenie" brought him recognition for being cast as Jack, the dog, for the French period silent film, The Artist, and, at the time unbeknownst, his fate as icon was sealed.

Premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival on May 15, The Artist received a full international release October 12 and was universally critically acclaimed by a landslide. Though lead stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo were strongly praised, it was Uggie who began generating unprecedented media attention as being the actor of his kind and widely acclaimed to have stolen every scene. International buzz for accolades for Uggie began escalating in a movement to recognize his work, and S.T. Van Airsdale, even proclaiming Uggie to have usurped Leonardo DiCaprio's performance in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, launched the "Consider Uggie" campaign which was furthermore supported by the cast and crew of the film and The Daily Telegraph among others. Uggie's official Twitter account was launched by this time. Meanwhile, after getting many inquiries as if members were allowed to cast votes for Uggie for Best Actor, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts rather speciesist and ignorant remarked, "Regretfully, we must advise that as he is not a human being and as his unique motivation as an actor was sausages, Uggie is not qualified to compete for the BAFTA in this category." But that wasn't the point (what's sausages to him and money to others as a motive), it was his remarkable talent regardless. Ultimately, voices and efforts for Uggie culminated with wanting him nominated for an Oscar to be a historic benchmark in recognizing him, and for all those before him, by the top honorary organization in the industry, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Despite the adamant position of select honorary bodies in the industry to not progress for readapting for recognition of the performance of non-human extraordinary performances (legend even having that German Shepard Rin Tin Tin received the most votes at the inaugural 1929 1st Academy Awards ceremony though the accolade for Best Actor went to Emil Jannings), Uggie was nevertheless received wide recognition by the reputable honorary establishments of the arts and by animal-focused organizations. The jurors of the 2011 Cannes Film Festival presented him with the Palm Dog Award, the eleventh time the accolade had been awarded to a canine actor in film; France's high Académie des Lumières highlighted him during the awards ceremony; and at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony - held on February 16, 2012, and for which The Artist received ten nominations (including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor and Best Actress for Uggies peers) becoming the most recognized French film in history; the first silent film to win Best Picture since Wings (1927) at the 1st Academy Awards; and the first 100% black-and-white film to win Best Picture since The Apartment (1960) - actor Jean Dujardin was awarded with Best Actor and took Uggie with him to the stage holding him in arms in the spotlight of the honor.

From first image, Jean Dujardin with Uggie in a still from the film;
Uggie on the red carpet for the Academy Awards; Dujardin accepting the award
for Best Actor with Uggie in his arms; and little Uggie afterwards.

By the summer of 2012, on June 25, Uggie was honored in a ceremony for the placement of his pawprints at the renowned TCL Chinese Theater (Grauman's Chinese Theater), in Los Angeles, where acclaimed icons since the 1920s have left their prints and signatures. This was considered a retirement celebration for Uggie as Von Muller no longer wanted to involve him in any strenuous projects.

"He is getting older and I wouldn’t want to put him through long hours like on this movie. He was on the set doing very long hours for a couple of months. If we get other jobs, he will go on. But not if the jobs are so intense."

In what was his last major appearance, Uggie was selected to comprise of the repertory of stars for the A&F Stars on the Rise campaign for the Abercrombie & Fitch Fall 2013 season. Photographed by iconic lensman Bruce Weber (who himself has a masterful affinity for dogs in his photography), Uggie displayed his beautiful charisma and furthermore attended the A&F The Grove, LA launch party of the campaign with the human stars and fellow canine friends also starring.

First image, Uggie in another of his shots for Abercrombie & Fitch by Bruce Weber;
remaining, having fun and hanging out with friends at the campaign party!

On August 11, 2015, Omar Van Muller confirmed first to the AP that Uggie had passed away - euthanized on August 7, at the age of 13, after having developed a prostate tumor.

The media released an outpour of love and condolences over his passing - most specially, from his closest friends in the industry with which he experienced wonderful moments...

A photo posted by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on

A photo posted by Jean Dujardin (@jeandujardin) on

A photo posted by Halston Sage (@halstonsage) on

Uggie, you are an icon of the ages...