Benji

benji pr photo
A Benji publicity photo.
Benji is one of the most famous movie dogs in the world.

There have been several Benji movies made since 1974. The dog is played by a mixed breed or mutt in each movie, which is great publicity for "mutts", and there have been at least 4 different mutts to play Benji. He is a small lovable dog who is quite clever, always solving problems and helping people. The first Benji character was a stray dog who living in a small town in Texas, and had many human friends that keep him fed and cared for. This version of Benji doesn't want to settle down with any one owner, he likes to play the field! Each Benji movie has a slightly different, but similar, plot.

There were six movies featuring Benji the dog, one of which was a Christmas movie. There was also a science fiction type TV show created by Joe Camp with Benji as a character. This aired in 1983 and had 13 episodes. It was popular enough to have reruns air throughout the 1980's and it was released on DVD in 2004. The series was called Benji, Zax and the Alien Prince (we couldn't make this stuff up)! There was also a documentary called the Phenomenon of Benji which aired as an ABC special and featured the search for a dog to star in the new movie, from animal shelters across the US.

The first Benji was a male dog named Higgens. The next several Benji movies featured Higgens' daughter Benjean, as the Benji dog. She played a male dog, of course, and played it well! She had a generation of kids fooled, anyway. She was in the next three Benji movies after the original. Later in the series, creator Joe Camp decided to look for the newest Benji in an animal shelter. This was a great service to shelter animals everywhere, because he made a documentary about looking for a homeless dog for a new movie, thereby putting animal shelters more in the public eye. It was estimated that, due to this exposure, more than 1 million shelter pets were adopted in the years that followed.

Benji is always a light colored small dog with fairly long fur. It usually looks like it is a terrier mix. There is a new Benji movie in the making, and the producers are looking for a new Benji. Even cockapoos are being considered! Visit the Benji page on Facebook where you can cast your picture of your potential Benji, and maybe your dog can become a star! Just keep in mind that they are looking for mutts, hybrids, or mixed breed dogs, and they prefer them to be adopted dogs.

Benji has been an American icon for many years, and will likely continue to warm the hearts of children and adults alike for many years to come.

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