Silent Film Star Beatriz Michelena & Her Faithful Wolf Hound, Czar Nicholas II

by Laurie Thompson

In 1914, Beatriz Michelena and her husband, George Middleton, moved to San Rafael to began to begin their career in the silent film industry at the California Motion Picture Corporation’s (CMPC) studios in Sun Valley.

Beatriz Michelena was CMPC’s leading lady and George Middleton was the studio’s director.

Early film star Beatriz Michelena & her Wolf Hound, Czar Nicholas II, 1912 © Anne T. Kent California Room, Marin County Free Library

During the years they were filming in San Rafael, the couple attracted much local attention and Beatriz was famous for strolling through Marin with her faithful canine companion, Czar Nicholas II, a wolf hound.

Czar Nicholas, or “Nick”, as he was affectionately known by his owner, was purported to be “the largest wolf hound in the world”. He stood 33 inches tall and weighed over 150 pounds.

In 1916 he appeared in one of CMPC’s San Rafael productions -The Woman Who Dared- with his mistress, Beatriz Michelena (see below).

Beatriz Michelena & her Wolf Hound, Nick, in “The Woman Who Dared” © Anne T. Kent California Room, Marin County Free Library

Eight years later, when he passed away, a San Francisco Call headline proclaimed: “First Canine Film Star is Dead”.

The article reports:

“Missing his usual morning greeting, Miss Michelena yesterday went downstairs in her San Rafael home and found Nicholas, or Nick, as he was known, stretched out dead upon a hearth rug….

A casket, big enough for a man, has been constructed for Nick, and he will lie beneath a great fir tree in the garden of Miss Michelena’s home, the garden where for many years, he frisked about at play.”

Originally published at




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Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room

The official Medium account of the archive of Marin County history & culture at the Marin County Free Library

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