Petey became famous as one of the most lovable and recognized dogs in film history.
|Pete with some of the little rascals|
The Little Rascals (originally called Our Gang) is a short comedy film series created by producer Hal Roach. It's about a group of poor neighborhood children being their adventurous selves. Petey, seen as a nanny dog, is the kids loyal and affectionate companion who protects and entertains them.
The first dog to play Petey in The Little Rascals was an American pit bull terrier named Pal, owned by Harry Lucenay. Many sources say Pal was hired in 1927 and his career ended in 1930 when he died of suspected poisoning by someone with a grudge against Harry.
Pal's puppy Pete replaced him in the show after his death. According to Ted Lucenay, Harry's son who grew up with Pete, "There were other Petes, but this is the original Pete."
Many sources say Pal had a partial ring around his right eye which was made into a complete ring with a permanent dye by Hollywood make-up artist Max Factor, and Pete was given a complete ring around his left eye with make-up. However, according to Ted "The ring around his (Pete's) eye was natural, he was born with that." Tiffany Pifer, Ted's granddaughter, says "The black ring around Pete's left eye was not the work of a makeup artist. The natural skin coloration was such an oddity that it became certified by Ripley's Believe It or Not."
Pete retired from the show in 1932 after Harry was fired from the Hal Roach Studios, but the lovable dog continued to please his fans. The family would spend summers in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Harry would take Pete to the Steel Pier where children and adults could meet him and pose for photographs.
Pete died of old age in 1946 when Ted was 18 years old. Ted said "He was a gentle, playful and warm dog. He would sleep at the foot of my bed. He was just the regular family dog. I really miss him."
The child actors loved working with Pete. Jackie Cooper, who was allowed to take Pete home with him for the weekend, wrote in his autobiography "I loved that dog. To stay a whole weekend with Pete was my idea of glory and paradise combined."
After Pete's retirement, other unrelated dogs were used to play Petey in The Little Rascals, and rings were applied to their eyes, some around the right eye and some around the left eye.