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Thanks to the unstoppable power of the Internet phenomenon known as the cute pet viral video, even animals are getting their crack at the realm of global celebrity. Here are five famous pets who have landed TV appearances, corporate sponsorships, book contracts and even movie deals from their viral video success.
Henri le Chat Noir
Filmed in moody monochrome, the Henri le Chat Noir oeuvre features world-weary feline Henri, a melancholy and terribly serious little cat who reflects upon his world with resigned, existentialist despair. In French. With subtitles."The cardboard box, a comfort to most cats, was my pit of despair," Henri laments in the latest video. "And when I reached the top, it toppled from the weight of my own ennui." Henri le Chat Noir is the brainchild of William Braden, who created the first of the six videos as a student film project. In April, Ten Speed Press released Henri's first book, "Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat."
Giant George, The World's Biggest Dog
For several years, the Great Dane named Giant George held the official Guinness record for tallest dog on the planet -- 43 inches. That's measured at the shoulders, mind you. End-to-end, George is about 7 feet long and 250 pounds. For his appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2010, George was given his own row of three seats. "Giant George: Life with the World's Biggest Dog," published in 2012 and written by owner Dave Nasser, earned surprisingly good reviews. Publisher's Weekly: "Startlingly honest and well-written, Giant George's story stands apart from the slew of other dog books on the shelves."
Chris P. Bacon
Born with malformed hind legs, the piglet now known as Chris P. Bacon (sound it out) was saved from euthanasia when Florida veterinarian Len Lucero took pity on the li'l fella. Using spare parts and kids' toys, Lucero built a harness/wheelchair for the piglet and the subsequent videos went viral. That led to a three-book deal with Hay House, publisher of inspirational and self-help books. The titles, to be penned by Dr. Lucero and co-writer Kristina Tracy, are part of Lucero's larger initiative to reach out to and inspire handicapped children. The first book hits shelves this fall.
The stern but fuzzy Internet meme known as Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce) made her debut with a simple online pic in late 2012. She's since lent her disapproving visage to a million image macros and online gags. Due to her particularly cranky facial expression (caused by feline dwarfism), Grumpy Cat has become a genuine celebrity, with dozens of TV appearances, various Internet awards, an expanding line of merchandise and -- yes -- a book deal. She's got a movie in the works, too. Producer Todd Garner has optioned Grumpy Cat for a Garfield-style feature film adaptation. “You read all of the memes and the comments, and one is funnier than the next," Garner told Deadline Hollywood. "We think we can build a big family comedy around this character.”
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Boo, The World's Cutest Dog
"My name is Boo. I am a dog. Life is good." So reads the digital inscription on the Facebook page of Boo, probably the Internet's single most famous animal. Boo earned celebrity status way back in 2010 when a series of Facebook photos -- either adorably cute or deeply disturbing, depending on your point-of-view -- captured the attention of celebrities like Khloe Kardashian and Ke$ha. The Facebook page now has more than 7 million fans and last year Boo was appointed Official Pet Liason for Virgin America Airlines. Boo has endured his share of celebrity tribulations as well, including a Twitter death hoax and the scandalous disclosure that Boo's owner is … wait for it … a Facebook executive. Now a bonafide merchandising force, Boo has since issued several wall calendars, a line of plush toys, a children's ABC primer, and two hardback photo books: "Boo: The Life of the World's Cutest Dog" and last year's "Boo: Little Dog in the Big City."
"Twerking," the raunchy dance that set tongues wagging when enthusiastically performed by Miley Cyrus at the MTV awards, is one of the new terms to make the latest Oxford dictionary update.
The former Disney child star, now 20, left audience members gobsmacked when she bent over and gyrated provocatively with singer Robin Thicke on his song "Blurred Lines".
The moves, borrowed from US hip-hop culture, have been colloquially known as twerking for around 20 years, but the term has now received official recognition after being included in the latest revision of Oxford Dictionaries Online, it revealed Wednesday.
"By last year, it had generated enough currency to be added to our new words watch list, and by this spring, we had enough evidence of usage frequency in a breadth of sources to consider adding it to our dictionaries of current English," explained Katherine Connor Martin, from Oxford Dictionaries Online.
"There are many theories about the origin of this word, and since it arose in oral use, we may never know the answer for sure.
"The current public reaction to twerking is reminiscent in some ways of how the twisting craze was regarded in the early 1960s, when it was first popularized by Chubby Checker's song, the Twist," she added.
Other new words recognized by the English language gatekeeper include "selfie", for a self-photograph taken on a mobile phone, online currency "Bitcoin" and "hackerspace."