Whatever Happened to Darla the Movie Dog After Her Role in “The Silence of the Lambs”?

If you’ve ever seen the psychological thriller The Silence of the Lambs, chances are you remember the sweet little Bichon Frise with the fluffy white coat belonging to the film’s maniacal killer, Buffalo Bill. In real life, Precious, as she was known in the movie, was called Darla, and she had a career beyond the horror movie genre.

Bichon Frise
Photo: Pixabay/Kasman

Darla the Dog

Born in 1975, Darla lived until 1992 before passing away at roughly 17 years of age. She began her film career in the 1985 comedy Pee-wee’s Big Adventure in the role of the Pink Poodle. She next appeared in 1989’s The ‘Burbs starring Tom Hanks. But her most notable role, of course, was as Precious in 1991’s Lambs starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster.

Due to the film’s immense popularity, Darla became something of a cult icon afterward and was the subject of a Facebook fan page entitled “Precious” that saw a lot of activity for a while. Her final role was in 1992’s Batman Returns, where she was cast as Ratty Poodle. It was quite the transformation from pristine pampered pup to a matted mess with straggly hair and a dirty pink bow.

ratty poodle
Photo: Batman Returns Video

Movie Career

So, how did she get her start? According to the scant information available on her, Darla was owned by trainer Christie Miele, who worked with her in her various roles. In addition to the four films, Darla also had guest appearances in the TV series Coach, where she played Watkin’s poodle, and on Eerie, Indiana as Fifi. Miele frequently works as an animal trainer and handler for film and television, so it’s little wonder Darla eventually found herself on both big and little screens across the globe.

Bichon Frise
Photo: Pixabay/b13923790

Animal Trainers

Over the years, Miele has worked with all sorts of animals. Most recently, she was an owl trainer for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a team trainer in A Dog’s Way Home, the animal trainer for The Art of Racing in the Rain, and the animal trainer in Dark Waters. Many movie and tv dogs belong to animal trainers, like Eddie (aka Moose) and his son Enzo on Frasier and eventually, the dogs that played Lassie.

As for Darla, fame is fleeting, as they say, but she had a good run while it lasted.

People, Pets & Planet

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