Skippy, also known as Asta, was a beloved Wire Fox Terrier best known for portraying Asta in The Thin Man (1934), among many other roles. Born in Van Nuys, California, he was trained by Frank and Rudd Weatherwax as well as by his owners, Henry and Gale East. Skippy could execute tricks on command through hand and verbal cues, beginning his professional film appearances by the time he was one year old.
While he became an overnight star for his work in The Thin Man, he also could be spotted in comedies such as The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), and Topper Takes a Trip (1938). In total, he appeared in just over 20 films, ranging from uncredited roles to roles in which he was credited as either Skippy or Asta.
Behind the scenes, Skippy typically was not allowed to interact with his human co-stars. His owners felt that the interaction would interfere with his concentration. To complicate the matter, he also bit Myrna Loy during filming at one point.
Skippy happened to play Asta in the first three Thin Man films before other terriers would eventually succeed him in the role. Though the Asta in Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man novel was a female Schnauzer, Skippy’s portrayal of the pooch increased pet terrier purchases.
Though Skippy is a delight to spot in many films of the 1930s, there are sadly no tributes to him today.