“During its short lifetime television has produced many actors and critics, but now it has produced its first really important actor and critic combined” was the introduction of LIFE magazine for J. J. Morgan, the celebrated television dog star who got his breakout fame for his appearance on the weekly show A Couple of Joes. The three-year-old basset hound’s unexpected stardom came because his owner, who was the producer of the show, needed something to liven it up, and Morgan soon outshone his co-stars. Fascinatingly, his success in capturing the audiences’ hearts was not by doing tricks or performing any feats of intelligence, but solely by “a blend of critical disdain worthy of George Jean Nathan and Queen Victoria,” according to LIFE.
After four months, he received constant demands for guest spots on several other television shows, and through it all, Morgan “maintained the same long-faced hauteur that distinguishes him from most other television stars,” wrote LIFE. Take a look at the celebrity dog through these fascinating photographs:
Singing with Peggy Martin, 1950. (Walter Sanders)
Sitting on a grand piano during the show ‘A Couple of Joes,’ 1950. (Walter Sanders)
Listening to trombonist Mike Riley play, 1950. (Walter Sanders)
Posing for a LIFE picture, 1950. (Walter Sanders)
Sitting with Laurie Collier and Bill Grady, 1950. (Walter Sanders)