Penny was about 5 years old in 1995 when she was played "Queenie" in "Queen for a Day", Penny sadly crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2007, but her owner Shelley Camm of Yasashiikuma Kennels has fond memories of the little Corgi!
~ Email correspondence with James Gratton, Dec. 23, 2012
Shelley, how did you and Penny became involved with "Queen for a Day"?
I had previously done some work with Jane Conway, an Animal Wrangler for movies and films. She called and asked if I had a red and white corgi that could speak on command. I told her to give me 15 minutes – I knew Penny was smart enough to learn. In that time she not only learned to speak on command, but on a signal – a quick “psst”. So she showed them Penny’s photos and she got the job.
Were there any script requirements for Penny to take the role of Queenie?
Being able to speak on command, which wasn’t required after all, because she barked for the ball as I mentioned on my blog, Penny was a huge ball fanatic and would bark until you threw it for her.
top-bottom left: Penny as "Queenie" in "Queen for a Day"
right: Penny with Jeannette Charles backstage - Photo courtesy Shelley Camm
You had mentioned that Penny had done some commercial work prior to the special, can you give us some examples?
She was in a Kellog’s commercial, and another commercial that ran during the Grey Cup in Toronto.
Do you recall where "Queen for a Day" was taped?
The outdoor scenes were all filmed at the train station and in the park in Tottenham (Ontario). The indoor scenes were filmed at a production studio that I think was on Commissioner St – or somewhere down near the Lakeshore.
With all the cast and crew around, was it hard to keep Penny focused?
Penny would focus on anyone who paid attention to her. Cardigans are like that!
There's one scene in "Queen for a Day" with Queenie barking at and chasing Schemer (Brian O'Connor), Can you share the secret of how that scene was taped?
Penny was fanatical about retrieving a ball and would get very excited if you played “monkey in the middle’ and didn’t let her get the ball. Just before shooting, I tossed the ball back and forth with Brian a few times to get her worked up, and then held her when I threw him the ball which he hid in his pocket. Penny ran to him barking for her ball, but it looked like she was barking at him.
Can you tell us your story about how you & Penny met George Carlin?
During a break when she wasn’t required for filming I took Penny into a lounge off the set and was playing ball with her to keep her happy. After a bit, a man came out of the set carrying a uniform in a bag. He hung it up, and sat on the floor with us playing ball with Penny, and talking to me about Corgis. After nearly an hour and a half, this really nice guy said he had to get ready for his scenes, picked up his uniform and left. Only much later did I find out I had been talking to George Carlin!
Can you share any insight about how Penni got along with the rest of the cast & crew?
Penny loved anyone and everyone, and had a way of endearing herself to everyone with her sweet personality and her repertoire of tricks. She ended up being used in a couple of scenes where she was’t originally intended to be included because she was such a biddable little dog.
Have you seen "Queen for a Day"? If so, what did you think of Penny's performance?
I’ve only saw it for the first time a few years ago when someone I communicated with through YouTube sent me a copy. It was kind of fun to see it all put together, especially when I knew how certain scenes got shot.
Penny and her kennel friends - Photo courtesy Shelley Camm
Can you tell us a bit more about Penny's qualities and how smart she was?
Penny was an extremely intelligent dog and learned things very very quickly. She was raised with an Irish Wolfhound, Alanna, who was her best friend and the two of them were known everywhere we went because of the opposite extreme in size. You knew that she would “coach” Alanna to get things off the counter that she wanted but wasn’t tall enough to reach by herself.
She was also a Houdini and nothing could keep her in when she wanted to go “walkabout” One time I couldn’t find her and was walking the streets calling for her when a lady said “Are you looking for a little red and white dog?” I said I was and she said she knew where she was. She took me to another house, and the woman said her son had found her and was calling her Yoda because of her ears, and thought that he had taught her all these wonderful tricks.
Penny helped raise every litter of puppies in the house, and had one litter of her own. She lived for 17-1/2 years, and was the little boss of the house for the entire time.