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He was absolutely great in the 1948 film, how on earth did they train

him to scratch frantically at the door to get out during Nancy's murder

by Bill Sikes

By the late Jimmie Russ (1976) taken from the winter issue The Stafford 2010

All dogs are actors, but Relyon Jake the Rake, or "Belsen" as he was dubbed - by me, was in the Richard Burton Class.

He eventually furnished into the fine stafford seen acting the part of "Bullseye" to perfection in the film "Oliver Twist", from the novel by Charles Dickens.

It is legendary that Charlie knew a thing or two about dogs which is the reason why he was sensible enough to favour a Stafford type terrier as his companion and made one the centre of his story.

It is conceivable that if dog shows had been popular in his time, that with his flair for telling the tale and his advocacy for this type of dog, he would have been elected to the Secretaryship of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club.

As the film is such a perennial favourite shown nationwide television around each Chrisitmas, I feel that the part of Bullseye as played by Belsen has done a lot to advertise the Stafford, and for this reason I have never regretted letting him go.

I bought him from Charlie Townsend as a six week old puppy for £4.00, at the Society's first Championship show in 1946, and sold him for the princely sum early 1948 to Charles Cruft Junior, the agent for the film producer Ronald Neame, who was in the process of making "Oliver Twist" at Pinewood Studios, Buck., and who was badly in need of a canine character suitable for the part in the film.

Unlike his co-stars, the late Robert Newton (Bill Sykes), Sir Alec Guiness (Fagin), Anthony Newly (The Artful Dodger) and John Howard Davis (Oliver Twist), Belsen needed no make-up as he was a dead ringer for the part of Bullseye. How well he performed and how representative he was of the breed, can be judged when this film comes into viewers homes each Christmes.

I went to Pinewood Studios several times to assist with his training. On one occasion I was asked to show Robert Newton how to pretend to kick Belsen without hurting him. This was done with the side of the foot and is quite easy when one knows how. However, when Robert tried, the dog took a dim view of it and immediately flew at Robert worrying hard at his "Bill Sykes" boots, and that part was cut forthwith.

I got into a shocking row with my wife, whose favourite he was, for selling him, and she reckoned that I would sell her if I got the chance, but as I was carrying a lot of dogs at the time, and all things considered, I did what I thought best.

As a Best of Breed winner he has inspired, to my certain knowledge, a number of people to take up the breed.

Through the medium, he is the ultimate in breed advert, and my family , along with millions of others enjoy him when the film is shown, and this could not possibly have happened in any other way.

Ronald Neame took a great fancy to him and after the film was completed, he took him into his care as his own dog.

Unfortunately, like a lot of Staffords, Belsen had no road sense, and, one day whilst chasing a cat across a road, he was knocked down by a large American car and killed

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Thomas Lamplugh

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9y ago

The real name of the dog in the 1948 film Oliver Twist was Jake. Jake was a Staffordshire terrier. This breed share a common ancestry with the American pit bull terrier.

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12y ago

Toto, Dorothy's dog in The Wizard of Oz, was portrayed by a female black Cairn Terrier named Terry. Terry became so popular as Toto, her owner officially changed her name.

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jack russell

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Q: What is the breed of dog in the Oliver Twist TV Movie?
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