Mr. Famous has to be the first celebrity Yorkshire Terrier to talk about. Not only does his name reflect his celebrity status as Audrey Hepburn’s first Yorkie companion but he was also the one who started the celebrity love affair with the Yorkshire Terrier breed. Audrey Hepburn started a craze when she appeared on magazine covers and in movies with her beloved Mr. Famous.
After his death during the filming of The Children’s Hour it is rumored that Ms. Hepburn fell into a spell of depression over the loss of her devoted friend. Mel Ferrer, her husband at the time, gave her her second Yorkie, Assam of Assam, who is captured in photograph in the basket of her bike on the My Fair Lady set.
Although not specifically referred to as a Yorkshire Terrier it is a common belief that Toto in the Wizard of Oz was always envisioned as a Yorkie. The author, L. Frank Baum, references Toto’s silky coat and since the Yorkie is the only terrier breed sporting such a fine coat it isn’t difficult to place Toto among the famous dogs of this breed.
Smoky was a tiny 4 pound Yorkie found in a foxhole in the jungles of New Guinea during World War II. She is credited as a WWII hero and is also the first recorded therapy dog. After accompanying her owner, Corporal William Wynne, for 18 months overseas she came home to tour VA Hospitals where she brought joy and comfort to other veterans.
Huddersfield Ben, the sire of the Yorkshire Terrier breed, lived from 1865-1871. Although he weighed more than the ideal Yorkie – somewhere between 9-12 pounds – he was known to consistently produce offspring under 7 pounds and was therefore a great stud dog for the breed. After his death (he was run over by a carriage) his body was preserved and put on display in England for a time.
Despite winning popularity decades prior, it wouldn’t be until the late 1970’s that a Yorkie would win the ultimate champion title at the acclaimed Westminster Kennel Club dog show. Champion Cede Higgins was the lucky Yorkshire Terrier who won Best in Show there in 1978. Almost twenty years later Champion Ozmillion Mystification would go on to win Best in Show at the world’s biggest dog show, Crufts in Birmingham, England, in 1997.
Pasha the Yorkie was of presidential caliber. He lived in the White House during President Nixon’s term. Although owned by Tricia, the daughter of President Nixon, he also spent time with the President and First Lady while they were out and about.
In more recent years Arwen the Yorkie, owned by Adam Green, has stolen the hearts of podcast listeners on “The Movie Crypt” podcast, which is run by filmmakers Adam Green and Joe Lynch. This little mascot appears regularly on the show, even being featured during the opening song. Adam Green and Joe Lynch ran a 3 day broadcast this year to raise money for a Yorkie rescue foundation.