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An opening sequence showing "Old Yeller" chasing a rabbit is mirrored by the closing sequence, which portrays the dog's pup as a worthy offspring. Although the opening credits read "and introducing Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcoran," both of the child stars had appeared in earlier television programs and feature films. Daily Variety reported in July 1956 that Walt Disney had purchased Fred Gipson's novel for live-action filming. At that point, the story had been serialized in Collier's (8 June-6 July 1956) but had not yet been published in book form. The following information was gathered from studio press materials: In 1953, Spike, the dog who played Old Yeller, was discovered in a Van Nuys, CA animal shelter by famed movie animal trainer Frank Weatherwax. He spent weeks getting acquainted with Doug, the trained bear owned by Byron Nelson, and the other animals in the movie, which were shipped in from various states. A January 31, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item states that some scenes were shot on location at Lake Sherwood, CA. Although a March 4, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Slim Duncan to the cast, his appearance in the film has not been confirmed. A November 20, 1957 Disneyland television program, entitled "The Best Doggone Dog in the World," served as a promotion for the feature. Old Yeller received wide praise, with the Hollywood Citizen-News reviewer calling the film "the best 'family picture' I've seen in years." Modern sources report that the picture grossed $8 million in its first domestic release.