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I still love the Oz books and the movie, I watch it every year at Christmas, and I still love Dorothy even though I can't fathom why she chooses to leave the magical land of Oz to return to dull, dry Kansas, but my favorite part of the movie continues to be Toto. I love how Toto, unlike many cinematic dogs, basically behaves like a regular dog throughout the movie: chasing cats, snatching food that doesn't belong to him, and barking at strangers. In my opinion its the best canine performance of all time, a Tour De Force.
Today, marks the birthday of Terry, the dog who played Toto. Born in 1933 Terry was owned by the famous dog trainer Carl Spitz who founded one of the first American dog training schools, The Hollywood Dog Training school, in 1927. At the time The Wizard of Oz was made Terry was already a star having appeared in six films, including Bright Eyes with Shirley Temple. Terry was payed a 125 dollars a week for appearing in the Oz film, more then some of the human actors, and about five times the weekly salary of the average American during the Great Depression. Of course like everyone involved in the film Terry will be forever associated with The Wizard of Oz and her role as Toto eclipsed all of her other work. Spitz even officially changed her name to Toto in 1942.
Terry, or Toto, died in in 1945 having made fifteen films, the last of which was Tortilla Flat based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Toto was originally interred in a cemetery on Spitz's ranch, but eventually when the Ventura Freeway was expanded the property and cemetery where destroyed. On June 18, 2011 a permanent memorial to Toto was erected in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.