Monday, December 26, 2011

First Celebrity Dog

I was watching the yearly holiday tour of the White House on HGTV and they had Bo in each room this year. So here's an article on the first celebrity White House dog - the Hardings' Laddie Boy!
Though there were many presidential pets before him, Laddie Boy was the first to receive regular coverage from newspaper reporters. "While no one remembers him today, Laddie Boy's contemporary fame puts Roosevelt's Fala, LBJ's beagles and Barney Bush in the shade," says Tom Crouch, a Smithsonian Institution historian. "That dog got a huge amount of attention in the press. There have been famous dogs since, but never anything like this."

During their time in the White House, from 1921 to 1923, the Hardings included their dog in almost every aspect of their daily lives. When Harding golfed with friends, Laddie Boy tagged along. During cabinet meetings, the dog sat in (perched on his own chair). At fundraising events, the first lady frequently had Laddie Boy make appearances. The dog was such a prominent White House personality that the Washington Star and the New York Times seemed to run stories about the terrier almost daily in the months after Harding took office. In a 39-day period in the spring of 1921, these are just some of the headlines that appeared in the Times:
"Gets Airedale as Mascot"

"Laddie Boy a Newsboy"
"Trees White House Cat"
"Laddie Boy Gets Playmate"

....Harding enjoyed his pet's fame; in fact, he cultivated it by writing letters to the press pretending to be Laddie Boy. But the president drew the line at commercializing his dog. "During the Harding administration, numerous toy manufacturers sent letters to the White House asking permission to have exclusive rights to produce a stuffed toy in the likeness of Laddie Boy," says Melinda Gilpin, historic site manager of the Harding Home State Memorial in Marion. "Harding refused to endorse any such endeavor." At least one company did go ahead and manufacture a stuffed animal Laddie Boy, an example of which is on display at the Harding Home.

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