Wednesday, May 27, 2009
NANA and LUATH - the fact and fiction of a pair of Newfoundland dogs
Few animals, save for BLACK BEAUTY and LASSIE, have appeared more often on the silver screen.
NANA was the character in Peter Pan who was cast as the nanny to the Darling Children. The dog's name has been known to generations of adults and children around the world.
It was not difficult for JM Barrie, author of The Boy Castaways and the stageplay, Peter Pan, to imagine a dolice and kindly large black and white dog caring for his charges.
His own dog, LUATH, was a Landseer. Barrie wrote about his writing: "I must have sat at table with that great dog waiting for me to stop, not complaining, for he knew it was thus we made our living, but giving me a look when he found he was to be in the play, with his sex changed.".
In most stage versions of the play, the part of NANA was performed by an actor dressed in a large fluffy dog suit but the role was based on LUATH, the writer's pet.
For over 100 years, the Newfoundland nanny, NANA and the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan, have given pleasure to countless children (and adults) around the world.
On one occasion JM Barrie commented that: "At one matinee we even let him, for a moment take the place of the actor who played NANA, and I don't know that any members of the audience ever noticed the change, though he (the dog) introduced some 'business' that was new to them and old to you and me. Heigh Ho!"
Pic: Poster: Michael Darling riding on Nana's back (corrected) - www.allposters.com