It is no secret that I really love animals. Growing up, I loved watching films that featured animals like, especially those nostalgic ones like Fly Away Home, Charlottes Web and Babe. These films will always hold a special place in my heart. Cuteness and fluffiness aside, do you have any idea how much money some of the other film star animals brought home for their owners?
As I started researching this article, my mind was pretty blown by just how much money these animals raked in. Astonishingly, some of these movie star pets even got paid more than their human co-stars! How crazy is it to think that an animal could beat you on your pay cheque? Can you guess who the highest paid animals are?
6. Terry The Terrier a.k.a. Toto - $125 per week!
Terry landed her first poochy performance in an uncredited role in Paramount’s 1934 romantic comedy Ready for Love. But then her break finally came and she starred in Fritz Lang’s Fury in 1936, followed by Stablemates in 1938. When, all the while, at her Hollywood Dog Training School she rolled around in porcelain bathtubs and had tasty treats of homemade vegetable and beef bone soup served daily!
When MGM was looking for a dog to be Toto, it seemed like Terry had been born for this role, as she looked like the splitting image of the illustrations! Terry found herself crossing the gender line to play the male Toto, but this didn't cause this animal star to turn into a diva!
Terry was paid $125 per week! This was more than some of the munchkins received, and even more than many other human actors got at the time! Some of the munchkins only received $50-100 a week! Can you imagine telling your friends that? "So, I am part of this movie and a dog earns more than me" - it sure is a toughie! Sweetly, later on in life her owners even changed her name to Toto.
Check out more of Terry's story!
5. Rin Tin Tin - $6,000 per week
This lovable and very pawfessional dog was a huge star in Hollywood in the '20s and '30s. Before Lassie came along, Rin Tin Tin was the most famous dog on the silver screen and TV!
Amazingly, in today's money the 6K a week would equate to over $78,000 each and every week! Pretty crazy, right? Thanks to this dog, Warner Brothers was saved, as he was one of the key players in keeping the studio from filing for bankruptcy back in the 1930s! It was saved because of some of the huge amounts of money that Rin Tin Tin raked in by starring in 26 Warner Brothers productions. Thanks to this legendary dog, the famous studio was able to keep its doors open. Just imagine all of our favorite films that wouldn't have existed if the studio had gone under.
Check out this clip all about the famous pooch!
4. Moose a.k.a. Eddie from Frasier - Networth around $3.2 million
If you watched Frasier you will have come across the sweet celebrity Jack Russell Terrier who starred as Eddie in this sitcom. The rumor goes that along with earning those big bucks (that cannot lie), little Jack received more fan mail than his human co-stars! Sadly, little Moose passed away in 2006.
I will always remember Moose for his epic staring contests with the cast while sitting as still as a statue.
Check out this clip for some of 'Eddie's' best bits and some fun little insights into this well loved dog!
3. Crystal the Capuchin Monkey - $12,000 per Animal Practice episode
Crystal will be able to buy a whole crate of bananas with her wild salary. This female capuchin monkey and animal actress has starred in over 20 movies! She has been named as one of the highest paid comedy actors on TV - which is pretty impressive for an animal who can't talk! It is estimated that she earned around $264,000 in total from starring in Animal Practice. This TV show is just one of many roles she has taken on. Crystal is not to be confused with the capuchin monkey who bit a makeup artist's ear on the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales set.
Ellen even got a kiss from this famous monkey
Take a look at Crystal stealing the show at the premiere of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb:
2. Pal a.k.a Lassie - Estimated net worth of $29.5 million
Pal was the first dog to play the infamous hero-dog, Lassie. After Pal's film debut in Lassie Come Home, he went on to star in six more MGM Lassie films between the 1940s and early 1950s. Some lucky people who went to rodeos and fairs even had the chance to meet Pal, and Pal even briefly appeared in some shows too. In 1954, Pal starred in two pilots for the television series Lassie. It was soon after this that the now household name retired. Pal earned up to $4,000 every week, which in today's acting world would bring in $51,000 per week. This dog will always be remembered as being one of the most loved animals in television. There is an awesome book all about Pal's life, The Story of Lassie: His Discovery and Training from Puppyhood to Stardom, which is a must read for any Lassie fan!
1. Keiko the Killer Whale a.k.a. Free Willy - $36 Million
Keiko brought in an incredible amount of money, but have you heard his story?
Keiko's journey began as a two-year-old orca whale! His journey spanned an incredible five countries and tens of thousands of miles! It all began in 1979 when Keiko was captured by a fishing boat and horrifically separated from his family, finding himself held in an Icelandic aquarium. He was then moved to Marineland in Ontario in 1982 where he was forced to become a performing animal. A mere few years later, in 1985, Marineland heartbreakingly sold Keiko to an amusement park in Mexico city. Warner Bros. Studios decided to get Keiko on board and filming for Free Willy began on location in Mexico City. Working on Free Willy brought Keiko $36 million in pay for his role!
The movie was such an epic success that those who had worked with this intelligent whale felt that they had to help him be free. The movie studio, the park and the animal protection advocates all collected together to find Keiko a more humane home. The Free Willy/Keiko Foundation was formed and thankfully The Mexico City amusement park donated Keiko to the foundation. In 1996, Keiko was moved to a $7.3 million rehabilitation facility at the Oregon Coast Aquarium where he could be trained to be ready for going back into the wild. This would be the first time that Keiko had felt natural sea water around him in 14 years. Keiko began showing signs of healing and his skin lesions began getting better. His rehabilitation included being taught again how to hunt live fish which over time he totally aced!
Amazingly, in 1998 Keiko was brought back to his native waters Klettsvik Bay in Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland, where he was looked after day-to-day in his netted bay. Keiko found himself fully free in 2002 when he made friends with other whales in the ocean. Although he sometimes popped up to greet locals, Keiko became known as the friendly whale. Sadly, he died in 2003 from pneumonia, but his legacy lives on! With films like Black Fish, I really hope that more whales will be released into their naturally habitats and not be forced into a cruel performing circuses!
There are so many awesome animals to list and these are just some of many! Which one holds a special place in your heart?