Moose (dog actor)

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Moose (December 24, 1990 – June 22, 2006)[1][2] was a veteran dog actor. He was a Jack Russell Terrier and was most famous for his portrayal of Eddie “Spaghetti” Crane [3] on the television sitcom Frasier. At the height of his popularity, he received more fan mail than any human member of the cast; he traveled in limos and flew first class across the country with his own frequent flyer card under the name “Mr. Eddie Moose Frasier”.

I was born on a freezing cold, rainy night, which was peculiarly strange for Florida. The town: Weirsdale. The year: 1990. It’s been said that I act like I’m God’s gift to the canine world. Well, I was born in a barn, it was December 24th, there was a bright start in the sky, and there was no room anywhere else…you do the math.[4]

Early life

Moose was born on Christmas Eve, 1990 in Florida, United States, the youngest litter mate and the largest puppy in the litter. Like Pal, the original Lassie, the obstreperous puppy was too much for his original owners. According to a 1994 article by Lori Golden: “...chasing cats was one of the activities that led to this troubled terrier becoming one of TV’s most precious pooches. Originally owned by a Florida family, Moose was too hard to handle. He couldn’t be house trained; he chewed everything; he dug and barked a lot; and he was constantly escaping and climbing trees. Eventually given to the Florida manager of Birds and Animals Unlimited, a company that trains animals for TV and motion pictures, Moose was put on a plane at 2 ½ - years old and sent to Mathilde de Cagny, an LA trainer working for the show-biz animal company.” [5]

Professional life

De Cagny recognized the cat-killing, horse-chasing rascal’s star potential right away. She has been quoted as saying that Moose was not the average dog; he was very quick to learn and won the role on Frasier after only six months of training. Although the chewing problem led to the premature loss of his teeth, and he was described as a dog with “issues”, Moose had stellar abilities; for example, he could fix Kelsey Grammer with a long hard stare on cue; this became a running gag on the show.

His co-workers also thought highly of him. Co-star John Mahoney frequently praised Moose, calling him "A consummate professional who works hard learning his tricks" in an article in Animal Press magazine in 1994. [6] When Kelsey Grammer won "Best Actor in a Comedy Series" at the 1994 Emmy Awards, he avoided thanking people individually for fear of neglecting someone. But he ended his speech saying, “most importantly, Moose, this is for you.” He later commented, “I did thank the dog. He’s the funniest thing on the show.” [7]

Sometimes, though, de Cagny resorted to other tactics. According to John Mahoney, when Moose had to lick his co-stars, liver pâté was dabbed behind their ears to achieve the required behavior. [8] According to several sources, Moose received more fan mail than any of his human counterparts on the series.[9]

Moose had numerous television appearances, a national print ad campaign and several magazine covers to his credit (refer to the credits subpage for details). There was an official Moose calendar and an "autobiography", My Life as a Dog, which was "co-written" with Brian Hargrove.

Frasier won a total of 21 Emmy Awards, but Moose was never nominated. In My Life as a Dog, he “commented”: “I don’t care. I’m sick of the whole damn mess. I’m just going to keep doing good work and be satisfied with the knowledge that I’m loved by millions of adoring fans around the world. But if I ever have to play a depressed dog again, I won’t have to act.” [10]

People also recognized de Cagny’s achievements as an animal trainer. Among the “in jokes” was this one from Frasier’s seventh season: in speaking about the opera they have just seen (Rigoletto), Frasier comments “Of course the finest Gilda ever sung was by the great Mathilde de Cagny. I actually have a recording. ” [11] David Hyde Pierce said that Moose and Enzo (his son and stunt double, who eventually took over the role) had both aged like fine wines because they were so well cared for. [12]

Unlike many dog stars, the novelty of an animal performer never wore off with Moose's public; his popularity continued well into the show’s run, and he continued to receive letters and presents until his death [13]

The search for a successor

Dogs age much faster than humans, so the fact that Frasier was a hit and would enjoy a long run necessitated the finding of an heir to take over the role. breeding produced a likely candidate, a daughter named "Miko", who, though small, was groomed for the role. She did not grow large enough, so she became the pet of one of the show’s technicians. Other offspring also became pets, including “Moosie”, who was given to actress Peri Gilpin. Finally, however, there was Enzo, a puppy with a remarkable resemblance to his sire. He turned out to be talented as well.

Enzo began doing the more physically strenuous tricks on Frasier beginning in about 1999. Moose continued to work on and off the show. In 2002 he played “Old Skip” in My Dog Skip, a family film based on the popular novel, in which Enzo starred opposite Kevin Bacon and Frankie Muniz.

Moose retired completely in 2003.

Retirement

Moose spent the last years of his life in retirement in West Los Angeles with Mathilde, her husband Michael Halberg and their other dogs, including Enzo, and Jill, the dog from As Good as it Gets. He died of natural causes at home aged just over 15 years or 16 years (sources differ), on 22 June, 2006.

Said de Cagny in a statement to People Magazine and Access Hollywood: "He just had an incredible charisma and was such a free spirit...he will never be forgotten." [14]

Notes and references

  1. Frasier's dog Eddie dies aged 16. BBC News (28 June 2006). Retrieved on 3 October 2013.
  2. Warrick, Pamela (26 June 2006). Frasier's Best Friend 'Eddie' Dies. People. Retrieved on 3 October 2013.
  3. Martin: “I call him “Eddie Spaghetti”
    Daphne: “Oh? He likes pasta?”
    Martin: “No, he’s got worms.”
    Frasier, Season One: The Good Son
  4. My Life as a Dog. Moose, with Brian Hargrove. New York: HarperEntertainment (HarperCollins), 2000. p. 13.
  5. Behind the Scenes with TV’s Top Dog: From Troubled Terrier to Canine Comedian. Lori Golden, Animal Press, October, 1994. Sourced at: http://www.thepetpress-la.com/articles/eddie.htm On: 26 April 2008
  6. Golden, 1994.
  7. Golden, 1994, op. cit.
  8. Sourced at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/5124104.stm On: 11 February 2008
  9. bbc.co.uk, 11 February 2008, op. cit.
  10. My Life as a Dog. Moose, with Brian Hargrove
  11. Frasier, Season Seven: Out With Dad
  12. Golden, 2002
  13. Frasier's Best Friend 'Eddie' Dies. By Pamela Warrick. Originally posted Monday June 26, 2006 04:00 PM EDT Sourced at: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,1208083,00.html