'Benji': Celebrating 50 Years of McKinney Film History
Almost 50 years ago, a scruffy little dog captured the hearts of millions when "Benji" opened in movie theaters ... on Oct. 17, 1974, to be exact. Most of this small indie movie was filmed in McKinney, securing a spot for our city on the Texas Film Commission's Classic Films Trail. (We still have visitors stopping in to inquire about the location of the "Benji house"!) Now, after attracting movie fans to our city for almost half a century, the McKinney community is showing its love for little Benji via upcoming celebrations.
This webpage will serve as your source of "all things Benji" so reference it for updates on events centered on this important piece of McKinney and Texas film tourism.
Benji Statue Unveiling: Feb. 19 during Krewe of Barkus
On Sunday, Feb. 19, the City of McKinney Arts Commission and McKinney Main Street unveiled the statue of Benji (by artist Susan Norris) during the city's annual Krewe of Barkus Mardi Gras Dog Parade event in downtown McKinney. The statue was funded by the City of McKinney and administered by the McKinney Arts Commission with support from the Daisy Riddle Family in memory of their beloved dog. (Photo at right is of Elizabeth Riddle with the newly-unveiled statue and a photo of her with her pup Daisy.)
Benji Statue Ribbon Cutting: March 11
Once the statue's brick pedestal was complete, the City of McKinney officially placed Benji in his new permanent home on the southeast corner of Virginia and Tennessee streets on the downtown square. The ceremonial ribbon cutting, a free event, was held on March 11.
50th Anniversary Benji Family Film Festival: Fall 2024
Details for this event are still in the development stages, but watch this page for details as we announce them.
About "Benji": The original 1974 Benji film, was written, produced, and directed by Joe Camp and had a budget of $500,000. Every Hollywood studio turned down the film, so Mr. Camp formed his own film company to distribute the film himself! The movie went on to gross $45 million at the box office. And not only was the movie a hit with filmgoers but its theme song, "I Feel Love" by Charlie Rich, was Oscar-nominated for Best Original Song.