7 Celebrity Animals: Where Are They Now? (A Drunk Column)
Everyone will tell you "Write what you know," but if I could add one qualifier to the end of that adage, it would definitely be "unless you're playing a drinking/writing game by yourself that hinges on your own ignorance, in which case, never do that first thing I said." As far as I know, the attribution for the original quotation has been lost to history, so from here on out I think we can all just agree to start using mine instead, for clarity's sake.
Last year on the Fourth of July, I invented a drinking game that allowed me to finish a column while simultaneously celebrating my country's independence. Like all drinking games, the rules were simple: I wrote about a topic I liked enough that it would keep me from wandering away in the middle of the game, and I drank each time I needed to look up a fact (indicated with an asterisk). It was so much fun that I intended to do it again this year. Then I completely forgot, until now. I'd like to keep the tradition alive, so I'm resurrecting it, about two months late, this time to celebrate ... National Dog Day,* I guess.
To honor the holiday someone clearly just made up, I'm going to explore the lives of celebrity animals I've loved from television and movies to see what they're up to now. And like the dogs we commemorate today, there's a good chance this will end with me throwing up on the carpet. So let's get started!
The Dog from Frasier
In a sitcom that features a bitter, widowed ex-cop, a slutty, desperate sound engineer, a psychic caretaker and two middle-aged brothers who only make jokes about opera, it's the dog who just stares at all of them in embarrassed disbelief who is, hands down, the most relatable character in the show.
Eddie was played by a Jack Russell terrier named Moose for over a decade, appearing in 192 episodes of Frasier.* During that time he got more fan mail than any of the other cast members,* which is ridiculous because there's absolutely no indication anywhere that he could read.* The closest I found was a biography* written by his handler about Moose's run on the show and which, judging by the jacket description,* sounds absolutely terrible.
For the last season of Frasier, Moose was replaced by his own son, Enzo, a puppy specifically bred for that purpose.* But the two got a chance to be in a movie together in 2000 when they both played the same character at different ages in My Dog Skip* with that kid from Malcolm in the Middle whose name almost certainly isn't worth an additional drink.
Where Is He Now?
Sadly, Moose died in 2006,* so he's probably not doing much of anything right now. His son Enzo, on the other hand, oh, is also dead.* Well, that was disappointing.
Drink Count: 10
The Orca Whale from Free Willy
Even if you've never seen Free Willy, you'll still probably recognize the orca Keiko from the movie poster, preparing to body slam that child. The movie follows the life of a captured killer whale that has to live under a neglectful owner until a little boy tries to free him back into the ocean.*
The irony is that in reality, Keiko was captured from the wild,* kept in harsh conditions at a Mexico City Six Flags* and, despite the heartwarming message of liberation in the movie, continued living in that tiny tank in a Mexican theme park* long after the tears of parents and children had dried.
It wasn't until three years after the movie's success that Warner Bros. apparently started feeling bad about how much money they made on the back of the whale and actively tried to get Keiko a better home.* In 1996, he moved to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and then to Iceland in 1998, where people argued over the prospect of reintroducing him to the wild.*
Where Is He Now?
Dead.* Another dead one. In 2003, during the preliminary efforts to release him just 10 years after the movie, Keiko beached himself* and died. I really didn't intend for this to turn out so sad. I'm sorry. At least he was 27 when it happened, which I'd image is a pretty good age for an orca.
No.* It's not. It's not good. Killer whales usually live to be about 70, it turns out. That's like a human. Oh, incidentally, the name "Keiko" is Japanese for "the lucky one."*
Drink Count: 20
The Taco Bell Dog
Ugh, I don't even like this dog, but I feel like I would have heard about it if he had died, and right now I just need something living on this list. You probably remember the "Yo Quiero Taco Bell" Chihuahua from all the commercials in the late '90s and from those T-shirts during our cultural puberty when we mistook advertisements on clothing for fashion.
The dog also had two other short-lived catchphrases, "Drop the Chalupa"* and "Viva Gorditas,"* both of which came within a three-year window when Taco Bell was still pretending to be Mexican food.
Aside from the fact that the dog was actually a female,* she was also one of the first animal mascots for a resta- Oh fuck she's dead, too.* I just read about it.
Where Is She Now?
Incinerated.* She had a stroke in 2009* and then her handler had to euthanize her.* Man, this was such a bad idea. Of course animals die, that's what they do. I don't know why I thought this would be fun. I feel like I could really turn this around if I just find one living celebrity animal. Thanks for bearing with me. Hey, speaking of bears ...
Drink Count: 27
The Bear from The Great Outdoors and White Fang
No, dead.* Sorry about that.
The Dog from Full House
Dead.* Lung cancer.*
Baloo from The Jungle Book and TaleSpin
Ha! Suck it, death! Good luck killing off an animated character.
Baloo was Mowgli's best friend throughout Disney's The Jungle Book and then had his own cartoon show where he was a pilot who fought pirates and tried to sleep with his boss in TaleSpin. If for some reason we didn't have parallel childhoods and you can't remember him, you would certainly remember the sound of his voice.
That's legendary voice actor Phil Harris,* who did a number of other Disney movies as well and today is, dead, apparently.* He died of a heart attack in 1995.
But Phil Harris wasn't the only voice of Baloo. It was Ed Gilbert who voiced the bear in TaleSpin. He went on to be the voice of El Seed* in The Tick and, according to IMDb, appeared in something called American Karoshi* in 2011, so there's very little chance that he's passed away.
Where Is He Now?
I'm so sorry. That was my fault. Ed Gilbert is dead after all.* Jesus, this whole list has just turned into a hideous pile of corpses, right? I don't even know how to fix it now. I think this might be the saddest I've ever felt. At this point I just want to get the rest of this over with.
Drink Count: Hard to say. I've been pouring out a lot of it and reevaluating some things.
The Cat and Dog from The Adventures of Milo and Otis
I thought I might have better luck with kittens and puppies. Nope.* In fact, this is way worse. It's not even worth explaining the movie because it's just going to make us both miserable.
Where Are They Now?
I think you already know the answer to that question. Apparently Milo and Otis is a re-cut of the original Japanese movie The Adventures of Chatran.* During the shoot, they used over 27 kittens* to play the same role, and as many as 20 of them didn't even survive* until the final shot, which I guess isn't a surprise, since they show footage of the cat being attacked by seagulls,* a bear* and a crab,* and falling off a cliff.* The whole movie is filled with so much animal abuse that the Humane Society won't even put their usual stamp on the end of the credits saying "No animals were harmed ..."* Hell, even Dudley Moore, who did the narration for the new version, is dead.*
What used to seem like a sweet movie is actually filled with tragedy. For what it's worth, I'm really sorry about all of this. I just wanted to do something fun and I ruined it. I feel like that giant rock character in The NeverEnding Story when he realizes that even his big strong hands couldn't stop the Nothing. Except my hands are kind of skinny and effeminate. Man, that scene was sad. Remember The NeverEnding Story? It's that movie where the fucking horse died in a swamp of sadness. Ugh, Happy National Dog Day. I need to take a nap.
You can follow Soren on Twitter or Tumblr.
For more drunkeness from Soren, check out The 7 Best Kinds of Monkeys: A Drunk Column and 4 Things I Regret Doing While Drunk in Your Emergency Room.