Uggie the dog's pop-culture takeover: A timeline
Nearly a year ago, a 10-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Uggie scampered into the spotlight when silent film The Artist had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. In the months since, the scene-stealing canine has enjoyed a guerilla Oscar campaign and a gig as Nintendo's pitchdog, and, now, is the benefactor of a brand new book deal. Here, a look back at the year in Uggie:
April 21, 2011
Water for Elephants hits theaters. Based on the novel by Sara Gruen, the film stars Reese Witherspoon and Twilight's Robert Pattinson as two love-crossed members of a Depression-era traveling circus. Uggie plays Queenie, the faithful dog of another circus member.
May 14, 2011
The Artist premieres at Cannes, receiving a prolonged standing ovation that lasts, according to various estimates, from 12 to 20 minutes, says Jada Yuan at New York. The rapturous reception causes Academy Awards guru Dave Karger to foretell the silent film's unlikely slog to Oscar victory. Uggie gains positive notices in the earliest reviews, with Todd McCarthy at The Hollywood Reporter singling him out as "exceptionally talented."
November 25, 2011
The Artist finally hits theaters in the United States, earning an impressive 98 percent approval rating at review aggregating website Rotten Tomatoes. New York Post film critic Lou Lumenick calls Uggie's spirited turn "the best performance, human or animal... I've seen this year."
November 29, 2011
Movieline's S.T. Vanairsdale launches a grassroots Oscar-for-Uggie campaign, agitating for Uggie to be considered in the Academy Awards' Best Supporting Actor category, noting that the canine "delivers as nuanced a performance as either leading man Jean Dujardin or leading lady Bérénice Bejo, and all while adhering most strictly to the covenants of silent-cinema storytelling." Unfortunately, "retrograde union and Academy rules" prohibit canines from receiving Oscar recognition. Still, the campaign quickly gains traction with the press, sparking a spirited debate over whether man's best friend can truly act.
January 16, 2012
Uggie steals the show at the Golden Globe Awards, where The Artist takes home three trophies. Clad in a strategically cunning bow tie, Uggie is one of the best-dressed stars at the ceremony, says Maura Judkis at The Washington Post. He charms on the red carpet, but his shining moment comes when he upstages his co-stars by playing dead onstage. "The crowd went nuts," says Terri Schwartz at MTV.
January 18, 2012
During an appearance on Ellen, Uggie shows off some of his best tricks, including his jaw-dropping skateboarding talents, dance moves, and a uniquely adorable stunt involving a kiss. Video of the talk show appearance quickly goes viral. (Watch it here.)
January 26, 2012
At the height of Oscar season, Uggie announces his retirement from movies. The pup endured "grueling 15-hour days" shooting The Artist and an intense publicity tour, Sarah Clifford of Hollywood pet actor agency Animal Savvy tells the U.K.'s Guardian. Now that he's 10 (70 in dog years), Uggie is "ready for a relaxing retirement by the pool."
February 6, 2012
Uggie's trainer, Omar Von Muller, reveals to the U.K.'s Daily Mail that the doggie celeb is suffering from "a mysterious shaking syndrome." His team spends thousands on vet bills trying to diagnose the ailment, a neurological disorder that causes tremors to come and go in waves. "It is a shame this has happened when he is getting the biggest success of his career," Von Muller says.
February 13, 2012
Uggie is crowned Best Dog in a Theatrical Film at the inaugural Golden Collar Awards, rewarding the year's finest canine performance on TV and in the movies. He takes the prize for his performance in The Artist, though he is also nominated in the category for Water for the Elephants.
February 26, 2012
To fans' delight, the scene-stealing pup appears twice at the Oscars. First, host Billy Crystal reads the dog's mind. (Uggie's apparent thoughts: "If I had 'em, I'd lick 'em.") Then, when The Artist takes home the Best Picture trophy, Uggie and his trainer rush the stage along with the rest of the cast. "As we look back on this awards season," says Sarah Anne Hughes at The Washington Post, "it's safe to say that it wouldn't have been the same without the four-legged guy who… stole our hearts."
March 7, 2012
Uggie, retired from feature films but still up for commercial work, becomes Nintendo's first official "spokesdog," shilling for the game Nintendogs + Cats. (Watch the ad here.) The verdict: Success, says Jason Schreier at Kotaku. "Every company should have an official spokesdog."
April 27, 2012
Simon & Schuster announces Uggie's first book deal. Uggie: My Story will be "transcribed by biographer and presumed dog whisperer Wendy Holden," reports the Associated Press. After a year that included roles in The Descendants and Water for Elephants, "look for the inside doggie dish on George Clooney, Robert Pattinson, and Reese Witherspoon."