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I don't like being cute, I don't like being fluffy, and I want some friggin' hands!
~ B.J. Browning complaining about 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, and is unrelated to the previous Benjis. 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 16th, 2018.

Movies

Benji (1974)

Benji doesn't need an owner, preferring to roam freely all over his friendly Texas town. He delights in hectoring the cat of a local widow, and can always rely on a kindly shopkeeper for a handout. But, when two children Benji loves are kidnapped and held for ransom, Benji springs into action, taking it upon himself to foil the crooks and save the day. Along the way, he also falls in love with a beautiful Maltese named Tiffany.

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

While traveling to Greece with his owners, Benji has a run-in with a phony CIA agent, who hides something on him that a lot of unsavory characters seem to want. Once in the foreign land, Benji becomes separated from his owners, and has to navigate his way through Athens with everyone chasing after him. All Benji wants is to be reunited with housekeeper Mary and the kids.

The Double McGuffin

When the Hardy 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. His karma is canine in form and gets him rebirth as a dog. Fortunately for him, the dog's owner is Jackie Howard, a magazine reporter who does not realize that there is a rather lustful man inside her innocent pooch. Benji supplies the few moments of humor in this uneven film.

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 k-9 to a defender of kitties.

Benji: Off the Leash!

Young Colby rescues a 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.

Benji (2018)

A modern day retelling of the classic, the story of Benji follows one orphaned puppy and Carter and Frankie, two capricious New Orleans school kids who strike up a friendship with the tenacious street dog. When danger befalls them and they end up kidnapped by robbers who are in over their heads, Benji and his scruffy sidekick come to the rescue.

TV Shorts

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.

TV Shows

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.

Video Games

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 Benji's choice, and he 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, Benji 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 Benji 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 Benji runs out of time or fuel, the game is over. The higher the rank, the more difficult Benji's rescue mission becomes.

Gallery

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)

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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