Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier featured as Jean Dujardin‘s faithful pet in “The Artist,” has died. His owner and trainer Omar von Muller released a statement on Facebook explaining, “We regret to inform to all our friends, family and Uggie’s fans that our beloved boy has passed away … Uggie had a cancerous tumor in the prostate and is now in a better place not feeling pain.”
Uggie was integral to the success of “The Artist,” which won five Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor for Dujardin, but the famous canine wasn’t included because the Oscars don’t have a category for animal performances.
The academy put the kibosh on animal actors after Rin Tin Tin received the most Best Actor votes in the first year of the awards, but Uggie’s performance didn’t go completely unrewarded during the 2011 awards season. He was awarded a special Palm Dog prize at the Cannes Film Festival, where “The Artist” premiered. He also won Best Dog in a Theatrical Film at the Golden Collar Awards. Movieline even launched a “Consider Uggie” Oscar campaign, complete with its own For Your Consideration page on Facebook.
Perhaps it seems silly to the academy to honor a dog who doesn’t even understand the significance of an Oscar – is it an award or a chew toy? – but let’s be honest: Rin Tin Tin has had more lasting cultural impact than many human Oscar winners, and would “The Artist” really have been the Best Picture without Uggie?
Photo: Uggie in “The Artist.” Credit: Snap Stills/REX