Alfred Hitchcock’s visage has been compared to the bulldog’s, but he preferred terriers. He was a fancier and owner of Sealyham Terriers. The Sealyham faces extinction today and has been called “rarer than a tiger,” but it was once favored by royalty, authors, and Hollywood stars. Princess Margaret, Dorothy Parker, Maurice Sendak, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Gary Cooper, and Tallulah Bankhead were all fellow Sealyham owners and some were photographed with their beloved pets.
Bankhead’s was actually a gift from Hitchcock when they filmed Lifeboat together, and she named him Hitchcock. He wanted to recognize what a good sport she was to keep filming despite developing pneumonia. I haven’t read of him ever giving another Sealyham to one of his stars, so he truly must have been impressed.
The Sealyham was developed as a working dog in the mid to late 18th century Wales, and it was used to hunt badgers and other unwanted vermin, but it could be devoted family dog. “Although the Sealyham might have the wit and courage to hold a badger at bay, he was also a very charming fellow to have at dinner.” Harry Parsons, the founder of the Working Sealyham Terrier Club, said, “They make great companions, and the way they bond with their owners is almost magical.” Numerous portraits of Hitchcock and his Sealyhams illustrate his love for them and their charm.
Hitchcock was recorded as having at least four Sealyhams–Mr. Jenkins (a suitably Welsh name!), Geoffrey, Stanley, and Sarah. They not only appear in the above pictures, but also Hitchcock couldn’t resist having a pair of them join him in one of his famous film cameos. Stanley, Geoffrey, and Hitchcock “exit downtown San Francisco’s Davidson’s Pet Shop. . .as elegantly-dressed blonde Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) enters.” That wasn’t Stanley and Geoffrey’s last foray in the film industry. Hitchcock named his production company for Marnie after them (Geoffrey Stanley Inc.).
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