BURBANK -- In the 1960s, Frank Inn found a lovable puppy -- a "mix of
Burbank and Hollywood" -- at the Burbank Animal Shelter, took him home
and named him Higgins.
Thirteen years later, Hollywood would call the pooch Benji and make
the "Benji" movie series based on the huggable, adorable character.
These days, Inn is on a quest to find the new Benji, a lovable mutt to
star in "Benji Returns: The Promise of Christmas," a new feature film
starring the scruffy dog that is due out next year.
Inn has returned to the Burbank Animal Shelter, hoping to find a star
"I'm lookin' for one, and I've got lots of friends lookin' for one,"
Inn said of his search.
"Has Frank come out of retirement?" asked Fred DeLange, the shelter's
superintendent, who began working at the shelter in 1961.
"If a dog comes in looking like Benji, we'd probably give Frank a
call," said DeLange. "We may have another star."
For Inn, now 85 and living in Sylmar, looking for a new Benji is
"Higgins was an all-American cross between Burbank and Hollywood," Inn
said of the scraggly, brown-haired mix of poodle, terrier and cocker
DeLange remembered Higgins, the last in a litter of pups at the
shelter, and Inn remembered that if he hadn't walked into the shelter,
Higgins might not have lived much longer.
"They were gonna have to put it to sleep to make space," Inn said.
Inn claimed the pooch and trained it for its Hollywood career, first
in "Petticoat Junction," followed by his starring vehicle, the movie
"Benji," created by Joe Camp who is also involved in the search for the
Higgins died at 18. His paw prints are enshrined at the animal
shelter, along with other memorabilia.