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Buck the dog (1983 - May 28, 1996) was an animal actor. He is best known for his role as Buck Bundy on Married... with Children. He was owned and trained by Steven Ritt and appeared in 177 episodes of the show. After nine years he was retired and his character was replaced with Lucky Bundy.

BiographyEdit

Buck was born in 1983 Bel-Air, California as Mike. Around 1985/86 Steven Ritt answered an ad in the Los Angeles Times for the purebred briard. He ended up getting him for free because the previous owner was a wealthy man and did not feel right about taking money for him. Ritt recognized his uniqueness in that briards are usually all black or all blonde and have cropped ears but Buck was an overlay and his ears were left natural and uncut. He trained Buck for 18 months and getting him used to people before he went before cameras. "We get them accustomed to supermarkets and other places where there are lots of people and lots of noise," Ritt said.[1][2]

ActingEdit

In 1986, Buck had his first small role in Janet Jackson's music video for "When I Think of You". Later that year he 'showed' for Married... with Children. At the time they were actually looking for an old, lazy, short-haired dog but Buck was still young and full of energy. Ritt had to convince them that they should consider casting a young dog because older dogs have a harder time learning tricks and might not last long enough if the show becomes successful. Ritt showed them tricks that made Buck look like he could be older and before he got back home after the audition, they had already called and said they wanted him.[1]

After they noticed that he was easy to work with, they started writing him into more episodes. As it progressively got to where they used him more and more, he even got a few episodes a year where the 'A' plot line centered around him. When he did not have any directions in an episode he would usually lie around in the background, like on the armchair, the stairs or the couch.[1]

According to his trainer, Buck was always capable of a lot. Since he often had to wait tens of pages of dialogue until he was supposed to enter or do tricks at the marks, Ritt had to build up Buck's lapse of memory. It was important that the timing was right because one second too soon or too late and the joke would not work. He would guide Buck with hand signals and treats but not withholding food as that would have lead to Buck looking at him too much and he would not have looked so natural. Buck knew his trainer's body language well enough to know when to check for hand signals and when to just look around at his fellow cast members.[1]

Buck and Ed

Buck with Ed O'Neill

His fellow actors loved Buck a lot, especially Ed O'Neill who had a special bond with him and would hang out and pet him whenever he had time in between shots. "During one taping Buck all of a sudden started kissing Ed on the face in the middle of a scene so Ed was unable to deliver his lines," Ritt recalls.[3]

In 1988, Buck appeared in the movie Scrooged with Bill Murray.

Sometime during season 4 of Married... with Children, Ritt decided to officially rename Buck, whose real name was still Mike at the time, to avoid confusion. Even though he appeared in many episodes before that, Buck did not start getting credited until the first episode of season 6 "She's Having My Baby (Part 1)".

A particularly demanding episode for Buck was "Look Who's Barking" because he had to work with another little dog and was in almost every scene. In once scene he had to work with B. B. King's music along with hitting several marks and performing tricks.[3]

Buck had no off-spring but was madly in love with another of Ritt's performing dogs, Frieda, a terrier mix. "They [were] real close," Ritt said. "I [brought] her on the set sometimes. They [were] pretty much in love. He [was] real big, brown and hairy and she [was] little with short hair. It [was] pretty funny to see. They [were] a long-time love."[2]

Retirement and DeathEdit

By the time Buck was around twelve-and-a-half, it was getting hard for him to distinguish hand signals at a distance so Ritt decided it was time for him to retire. His character was sent off in the third episode of season 10 titled "Requiem for a Dead Briard", in which Buck Bundy dies and is reincarnated as the cocker spaniel puppy Lucky. It ends with a title card that reads "Dedicated to Buck the dog, who will be enjoying a well-deserved retirement."[1][3]

One year later Buck died in real life on May 28, 1996 in Acon, California at the age of thirteen-and-a-half. His body was cremated and his ashes given to his trainer, Steven Ritt.[4]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 The Encyclopedia of TV Pets: A Complete History of Television's Greatest Animal Stars, Thomas Nelson, March 2002, ISBN 9781418557379
  2. 2.0 2.1 Tv's Top Dogs, January 22, 1992, Los Angeles Times
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The Complete Married With Children Book: TV’s Dysfunctional Family Phenomenon, BearManor Media, August 2017, ISBN 978-1629331898
  4. Buck Bundy's memorial at findagrave.com
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