Friday, July 26, 2013

Remembering Frank Inn May 8, 1916 - July 27, 2002

As most of you will soon realize, I enjoy learning the stories of both the lives and deaths of the famous and the not so famous.

One of my favorite stories ever is about a man by the name of Elias Freeman, better known as Frank Inn.

Elias Freeman was born in Camby, Indiana to a Quaker family and his father was a pastor.  He decided at the age of 17 to change his name to Frank Inn and claim his fame in Hollywood.  He arrived there and got a job sweeping streets along with other tasks for about $29.00/week.  The story goes that he was the victim of a car crash at the age of 19 in Hollywood and was actually pronounced dead.  When an attendant was taking him to the morgue, he noticed a sign of life and rushed him back to the emergency room.  Amazingly, he survived the accident but was left in a wheelchair and had severe physical difficulty.

Although he survived, he could no longer do his job.  He was left handicapped and had to decide what he was going to do with the rest of his life.  As a child, he helped his family on the farm and enjoyed training his pets.  It came to his mind that perhaps he could further his knowledge of training animals. His daughter said that he had a telepathic communication with animals.

His animal training career spanned more than 50 years and is responsible for the training of many animal celebrities along with Frank's wife, Juanita.  His first professional work was assistant to the training of "Skippy" the dog who played Asta in the "Thin Man" movie series.  He also assisted the famous animal trainer Rudd Weather wax in the training of "Pal" better known as Lassie.   Inn finally decided he could make it on his own and started his own animal training company as an independent trainer.

Inn trained "Orangey" the cat who appeared in several films including "Rhubarb" "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "The Diary of Anne Frank; the famous pig "Arnold Ziffel" from the popular television sitcom "Green Acres" "Tramp" the dog from "My Three Sons"  and numerous others that included chimps and other critters that appeared in shows like "The Beverly Hillbillies."

Frank also appeared in the films having played a security guard in "Mooch Goes to Hollywood" a cook in "Hawmps"

and as himself in "Benji the Hunted"

It is said that over the years, Frank had saved hundreds of animals from euthanasia.  He would regularly support the various animals shelters with money to help his furry friends.  At one time, it is said, that Frank and his assistants were supporting 1000 animals at the cost of $400/day.  One day, while taking a donation into a shelter, he spotted a "mutt" in a cage.  The dog was a combination of poodle, cocker spaniel, and terrier.  It seemed like love at first sight when he asked the person running the shelter if he could take the animal home.  Frank had a new friend named "Higgins"that would become his lifelong partner.  He began training "Higgins" and realized how smart the dog was.  To make a long story short, "Higgins" first appeared as the dog in the "Petticoat Junction" show during the 1960's.  "Higgins" also became one of the most famous animal celebrities in history and appeared in feature films including "Mooch Goes To Hollywood" and of course "Benji"  (incidentally the other Benji films were "Higgins" offspring.)  You would assume from the name that Higgins was a male.  Not true!

When Orangey, Arnold and Higgins died.  Frank had them cremated and the plan was that Frank wanted them in the casket with him when he died.  I have heard conflicting reports that it didn't happen and that Frank's daughter now has them.  I don't know the truth.

I do know that when Higgins died, Frank had a funeral for her.  It was attended by the Hollywood writer Stephen Cox who provided me with Higgins funeral program that includes Frank's writing of "The Saga of Benji" (Higgins's funeral program pictured)

Frank joined his loving companions on July 27, 2002 at the age of 86.  Frank's funeral was held at the Shepherd of the Hills Christian Church at Porter Ranch on August 5, 2002.  His funeral program (pictured) includes a photograph of Frank & Higgins and Frank's own words in a poem he wrote called "No Handicaps in Heaven"

   I dreamed I was in Heaven and many who'd been handicaps were there.  Everyone was healthy and happy, because nobody was in a wheelchair.  There's no handicaps in Heaven and there's no cross there to bear.  Since every soul is perfect, there's just no need for a wheelchair.  Wheelchairs, canes, crutches and pain had been forever left behind.  The beauty I saw everywhere because there were not any souls blind.  Many handicaps are neglected in life but our Lord loves their soul.  He takes the souls from the broken bodies then He makes then whole.  In Heaven God provides all the needs for us to enjoy our life anew.  We'll all have a beautiful life forever with pleasant things to do.  You know when Jesus died on the Cross, He died and forgave all sin.  Heaven's Door is always open for those who open their heart to Him.  Frank Inn

Frank now rests in Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)

God Bless Frank Inn!

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