In 1994, a nine-year-old Tina Majorino burst onto cinema screens when she appeared in three feature films in one year. While the youngster won praise for her roles in When a Man Loves a Woman and Corrina, Corrina, for me it was her third film, Andre that had a special place in my heart.
Andre, was based on the true story about a girl (who is named Toni in the film) and her unbreakable bond with an adopted seal named Andre. The movie was funny (Andre and his constant raspberries, anyone?), sad and ultimately heartwarming when he returned to his coastal home, and friend, Toni at the very end.
Andre was released during a time when family movies were very animal oriented, with Free Willy and Homeward Bound both being released the year prior. But it's been over 20 years since audiences met Toni and her cheeky seal - so what happened to the pair?
Tina Majorino - Toni Whitney
Following her part in Andre, Tina Majorino had a solid career as a child actor for the remainder of the '90s. Aside from When a Man Loves a Women, Corrina, Corrina and Andre, you may have also seen her in Waterworld, Santa Fe and Alice in Wonderland. However, in 1999 Majorino took a sabbatical from acting, citing burnout - not surprising seeing as she had literally grown up on film sets! In 2004 the star made a return to film in the in cult classic Napoleon Dynamite as the quiet, but entrepreneurial Deb.
She then went on to star alongside Kristen Bell in Rob Thomas' TV series Veronica Mars, as well as Big Love. Since 2011, you may have seen her in the TV series Bones, Grey's Anatomy or most recently Veronica Mars the movie, or TV series Legends.
Tory the sea lion - Andre the seal
Surprisingly, it wasn't a seal who played the part of a seal named Andre, but a sea lion named Tory! Due to seals being much harder to train, a sea lion was a much better substitute.
Interestingly Suzanne Fortier, who was the head trainer on the film, and Andre screenwriter Dana Baratta had both actually seen the real-life Andre years earlier as children. Their lives came full circle when they worked on the film alongside sea lion Tory, and the other sea lions who doubled for her.
Following Tory's stint in Andre, she eventually ended up in the Mississippi headquarters of Marine Animal Protections where she lived until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina crushed it. Luckily Tory was evacuated the day before the storm hit. However the storm ended the company, and she was sent to 'Dolphin Encounters' in the Bahamas.
While Tory was initially chosen to go to the Bahamas to breed with other sea lions, by the time she arrived, she had endometriosis and sadly couldn't have any more pups. Regardless, Tory lived good life in a natural saltwater lagoon for two years. During this time trainers catered to the sea lion's special needs, as in addition to her endometriosis, she was also now blind. On June 20th 2008, just short of her 23rd birthday, Tory the sea lion passed away from kidney and heart failure.
Much like the original Andre, Tory was buried on land by the humans who loved her, and will no doubt be remembered for many years to come.
Was Andre a childhood favorite of yours?