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I don't like being cute, I don't like being fluffy, and I want some friggin' hands!
~ Benjamin Browning in his reincarnation as Benji.

Benji is the main protagonist of the Benji franchise. He has had a dozen movies, a Saturday morning TV series, two documentaries on his celebrated life, and even a sci-fi video game for the Commodore 64.

He was created by Joe Camp.

Origin

While there is only ever one Benji at a time, there have been five dogs to play Benji, the first was Higgins who is best probably known for having played the character "Dog" on the 1960's television series Petticoat Junction and later starring in the 1974 movie Benji. He was trained and owned by Frank Inn, while Joe Camp is the creator and director of the films.

Higgins was originally a rescue dog adopted from the Burbank Animal Shelter by trainer Frank Inn, and according to him was the smartest dog he had ever trained. In 1971, Higgins starred in Mooch Goes to Hollywood. As a senior dog (aged 11) he was then retired from acting, but in 1974 starred in his final and greatest role, the loveable mutt in Joe Camp's family film Benji.

The second dog to play Benji was Higgins' daughter, Benjean. She starred in three movies (For the Love of Benji, Oh! Heavenly Dog, and Benji the Hunted), four television specials (Benji's Very Own Christmas Story, Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland, Benji at Work, and The Phenomenon of Benji), and a TV series (Hanna-Barbera's Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince).

The dog photographed on the cover of Joe Camp's book Benji & Me was the third Benji. He was distantly related to Higgins and Benjean but never starred in any films.

The fourth Benji is a female dog named Moochie, who is unrelated to the previous actors. Moochie was adopted from the Humane Society of South Mississippi in Gulfport after being abandoned and rescued from the streets of Pass Christian. She began filming her first movie a year and a half later. Benji: Off the Leash! was released in 2004.

The fifth and current Benji is a fox terrier mix named Fairfield. Joe Camp’s son Brandon released the reboot to the original film on Netflix by Blumhouse Productions on March 16, 2018.

Appearance

Benji is a small brown mix-breed dog. His ears are a dark brown and has some one patches on his nose. He has a black collar with a gold tag.

Movies

  • Benji (1974)
  • Hawmps? (1976; cameo)
  • For the Love of Benji (1977)
  • The Double McGuffin (1979; cameo)
  • Oh! Heavenly Dog (1980)
  • Benji the Hunted (1987)
  • Benji: Off the Leash! (2004)
  • Benji (2018)

Television specials

  • Benji's Very Own Christmas Story (1978)
  • Benji at Work (1980)
  • Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland (1981)

TV shows

  • Benji, Zax, and the Alien Prince (1983)

Documentaries

  • Benji's Life Story (1976)
  • The Phenomenon of Benji (1978)

Video games

  • Benji's Space Rescue (1983)

Biography

Benji (1974)

Benji lives in a small town in Texas and often does his morning routine, meeting the local neighborhood, but his favorite people are Paul and Cindy Chapman. However, he discovers that criminals have broken into his abandoned home and he meets up with a white Maltese dog named Tiffany. When they settle into the home, they discover that the criminals have kidnapped the children. Benji tries to get the attention of Mary and the local authorities, to no avail. However, he realizes that a crumpled ransom note is in the house and heads back to get it. When he catches it, the kidnappers viciously kick Tiffany and he manages to escape. One of the kidnappers tries to foil Benji's plan, but he manages to show the letter to Mary, allowing them to follow Benji to the abandoned house, where they arrest the crooks. Dr. Chapman is grateful of Benji and Tiffany's heroic act and decides to keep them, much to the delight of the children.

Hawmps?

During a brawl at Smitty's bar, Benji and Tiffany can be seen as they walk into the bar, causing the cook to stare incredulously at them. When Clemmons tells his story to his grandchildren, Benji's barks can be heard from outside his house.

For the Love of Benji

Benji is traveling to Greece with his owners and Tiffany is pregnant. However, phony CIA agent places a formula in Benji's paw and he becomes lost. He makes friends with a local stray as well as a butcher and is forced to avoid international thieves pursuing him, including the same agent pretending to be Chandler Dietrich with a vicious doberman by his side. Benji eventually finds Mary and reunites with her and the children. However, a secret agent named Stelios wants to save the dog from Chandler, but the man knocks him unconscious and manipulates Mary into having Benji taken away. Stelios tells Mary the truth about Chandler Dietrich and heads out to find Benji. Chandler takes Benji to a yacht with the same crooked couple he encountered, but manages to escape. Benji realizes that Chandler kidnapped Cindy and bites him in the hand, allowing the police to arrest him. While playing at the beach with the children, Benji proudly introduces his offspring.

The Double McGuffin

When the boys come up with a plan to get their evidence back from Mr. Firat to show it to Chief Talasek, Benji can be seen with Frank Inn as the boys set on the fire alarm and sneak into Firat's room. Magazines of him can also be seen at the entrance in the hotel.

Oh! Heavenly Dog

Private eye Benjamin Browning is in London tracking down a sexual scandal in British political circles when he is murdered when he discovers the corpse of a woman named Patricia Elliot. He gets reincarnated as Benji to solve his own murder, while meeting up with an Englishwoman named Jackie Howard. Browning realizes that the suspect was a man named Malcolm Bart, who was pretending to be a Parliament member named Quimby Charles and manipulated him into "protecting" Patricia. He then discovers that the "ALP" pendant stands for "Alistair loves Patricia" and shows it to Jackie and Alistair Becket. Jackie accuses Becket for being the murderer at first until Bart confesses. He tries to shoot Benji, but Jackie shields him and is shot in the process, allowing Bart to be arrested. Browning is dejected over Jackie's death and attempts to commit suicide until he realizes that Jackie returned as a cat and happily makes out with her.

Benji the Hunted

After being separated from his owner while at sea, Benji is lost in the wilderness. After a brief encounter with a wounded cougar and a hunter, Benji finds himself being a foster parent after finding four cubs belonging to the cougar that was shot. Unwilling to leave to their faith, Benji becomes their protector. After a brief visit to a shack that resulted in a "not so friend meet," with his cousin, the Timber Wolf and stealing a chicken from the hunter, Benji finds another mother cougar, who has one cub. This strikes a mission for Benji, faced with the wilderness. Benji must go from a lost canine to a defender of kitties. Benji defeats the evil Wolf and manages to get the cubs adopted before he is rescued by Frank Inn.

Benji: Off the Leash!

Colby rescues a half-bred puppy from his abusive dog-breeding stepfather, Hatchett. Under Colby's care, the canine grows up to be handsome Benji, the mongrel hero. Benji soon teams up with Lizard Tongue, a local stray, to rescue his mother before she dies of overbreeding. As Benji and his friend try to get his mother away from Hatchett, they must avoid animal-control officers Sheldon and Livingston. They manage to rescue the mother from Hatchett and get the two officers to help cure her, while Lizard Tongue finally has a master. When Hatchett learns that Benji is about to become a superstar, he tries to prevent that from happening, but Colby tells them the truth about Benji and Hatchett is arrested.

Benji (2018)

Benji is a stray dog who befriends two students named Carter and Frankie. However, their mother refuses to keep him and the two kids are kidnapped by robbers while trying to get their father's watch back. Benji witnesses it and follows the crooks to their hiding place. Benji heads back and tries to get the attention of the local authorities, only to find the house empty. However, Benji gets the attention of a local stray and she reluctanly agrees to help him. They arrive at a boatyard and manage to defeat the robbers' guard dog, Rott and turn against his owners. Benji attacks one of the robbers, but he throws Benji to a wall, knocking him unconscious. The kids and their mother learn that Benji has survived and they decide to keep him, while the criminals are arrested.

Benji's Very Own Christmas Story

Mary and Cindy are on a promotional tour in Switzerland and are asked to be grand marshalls of a Christmas parade in Zermatt. Due to a broken leg, Kris Kringle is sending his elves out to deliver presents, and as this will force them to miss the parade he wants them to meet Benji first. With help from Mary and Cindy, Kringle realizes the true meaning of Christmas and performs a musical number showing how Saint Nicholas appears all over the world.

The Phenomenon of Benji

A highly entertaining program which tracks the lovable, expressive mutt's rise from a California animal shelter to a long-running television program and finally, to phenomenal movie stardom.

Benji at Work

This video offers the viewer an inside look at canine film celebrity Benji, as he gets ready for his starring performances in such films as Hawmps?, For the Love of Benji, and Oh! Heavenly Dog, Benji's trainer works with him until he gets his part, his tricks, and his remarkable expressions down just right. Appearing with Benji are film stars Jane Seymour, Omar Sharif, and Chevy Chase.

Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland

As Benji prepares to perform the first SCUBA dive by any dog, a diabolical Nazi dachshund attempts to prevent it from happening. However, he manages to defeat him and finally makes the dive before heading back.

Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince

Benji acts as the self-appointed guide and protector of the young Prince Yubi of the planet Antars and his level 2 asynchronous droid, Zax. The crown prince in exile is pursued by the ruthless hunters Darah and Khyber, on orders of the warlord tyrant Zanu, who has taken over the planet and is holding the queen prisoner. Prince Yubi must find a way to survive on this strange planet Earth, which he does not understand at all, while avoiding capture by Zanu's hunters.

Benji's Space Rescue

Benji's mission is to save a number of scientists that are being held by robot drones somewhere in the solar system. Once they are on board, Benji has to take them safely back to Earth. This can be done by going into the engine room and selecting the planet of the player's choice, and they can modify the warp and jump settings to get to the planet faster or slower. When cruising the planet's surface, Benji's ship's alarm will sound if it detects enemy movement. This is followed by the drones chasing Benji and shooting at him with their lasers. While fighting the drones, the player can use the keyboard's function keys to either fire torpedoes or phasors. While transporting scientists, Benji must supply them with rations in order for them to survive. Benji is constantly running out of fuel, meaning that the player needs to stock up while orbiting space. Higher ranks have Benji rescuing more scientists and navigating an asteroid field. Benji have a specific number of star days to rescue the scientists. If the player runs out of time or fuel, the game is over. The higher the rank, the more difficult Benji's rescue mission becomes.

Gallery

Trivia

  • The title theme of the first film Benji was nominated for an Oscar, and won the Golden Globe Award.
  • He is inspired by Tramp from Lady and the Tramp.
  • Benji has twice been awarded AGVA’s Animal Entertainer of the Year award. Benji has been a frequent visitor to various top ten popularity lists, including Performer Q.
  • A Young Miss magazine poll ranked Benji #5 among all males.
  • Benji was the second animal ever to be inducted into the Animal Actors Hall of Fame, after Lassie.
  • USA Today ranked Benji the Hunted third best among all of the summer’s hot movie releases.
  • The American Humane Association has reported that because the original Benji was rescued from an animal shelter, more than 1,000,000 dogs were adopted from shelters across the country.

Navigation

            Benji logo Heroes

Benji

Recurring Characters
Tiffany | Mary | Paul Chapman | Cindy Chapman | Zax | Prince Yubi

Benji (1974)
Dr. Chapman | Officer Tuttle | Lt. Samuels

Hawmps?
Howard Clemmons | Uriah Tibbs | Seymour Hawkins | Hi Jolly | Jennifer Hawkins | Camel Soldiers (Fitzgerald, Arthur Logan, Nathaniel R. Higgins and Corporal LeRoy) | Camels

For the Love of Benji
Stelios | Yiannis

Benji's Very Own Christmas Story
Santa Claus | Pins | Needles | Key Elf

The Double McGuffin
Specks | Homer Rutledge | Billy Ray Dober | Foster Amaway | Jody | Arthur Honeycutt | Chief Talasek | Madame Kura

Oh! Heavenly Dog
B.J. Browning | Jackie Howard | Mr. Higgins | Freddie

Benji at Work
B.J. Browning | Jackie Howard

Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland
Lana Afghana | P.W. Pugit | Security Shark

Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince
Lucy | Trask | Mr. Stevens | B.J. and Farley Matthews | Joey | Tanya | Dr. Len Janson | Nora Janson | R.J. Jenkins

Benji's Space Rescue
Scientists

Benji the Hunted
Cougar cubs | Mother Cougar | Cougar mother

Benji: Off the Leash!
Colby Hatchett | Lizard Tongue | Merlin the Cockatoo | Claire Hatchett | Livingston and Sheldon | Oswald Lewis | Zachary Finch

Benji (2018)
Carter Hughes | Frankie Hughes | Whitney Hughes | Lyle Burton | Sam King | Mongrel

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