Fans obsessed by their celluloid idols are not an unusual phenomena. Indeed, some have been known to take their obsessions to an extreme; stalking, intimidating and even attempting to abduct their objects of desire. However, the recent arrest of fifty-three year old Ricky Pink by the Arizona state police has brought to light perhaps the most bizarre star fixation in history, for Ricky is obsessed with celebrity animals. A spokesman for the police department claims that Pink has confessed to a string of celebrity animal-related kidnappings and extortion attempts stretching back over a period of some thirty years. For his part, Ricky claims that he first felt this strange fetish’s stirrings whilst watching westerns at his local drive-in when still only a teenager. “I gradually realised that it wasn’t the likes of John Wayne and Audie Murphy who were drawing me back there, week in, week out, but rather what they were sitting on,” the middle-aged pervert recently revealed. “It was those magnificent beasts, with their rippling muscles and shining flanks which really grabbed my attention!”

Ricky quickly realised that it wasn’t just horses that fascinated him, cats, dogs, chimps, orang-utans, in fact any animal – just so long as it was on-screen and famous. “I knew it was wrong,” he sobbed when interrogated by detectives. “But I just couldn’t help myself! At first it was all perfectly innocent – I just sent them fan letters asking for signed photographs.” Mere photographs didn’t satisfy him for long, and soon Pink was caught at a California ranch stalking the now retired Francis the Talking Mule. As well as placing a restraining order against the nineteen year old Pink, the Judge also ordered him to do military service in the hope that a dose of strict discipline would curb his fetish. Pink quickly found himself in Vietnam, but in spite of seeing action in the Mekong delta he found that his thoughts were still turning to his beloved animal stars. “While everyone else had pin-ups of their girlfriends or stars like Raquel Welch, I had pictures of Lassie and Rin Tin Tin in my locker,” he confessed.

Pink was discharged from the army after an unsavoury incident in 1969 when popular TV bear Gentle Ben was part of a Celebrity Tour entertaining US troops in South East Asia. “I couldn’t help it”, Pink says of the episode. “I was all right until they brought him onto the stage dressed in an army uniform! I never could resist a man in uniform!” Pink suffered serious lacerations and was quietly invalided out of the forces. Returning home to Arizona in 1970 the increasingly desperate Pink embarked on a course of action that was to change his life irrevocably.

In a daring midnight raid he stole the embalmed body of Roy Rogers’ famous mount Trigger from the retired cowboy star’s Montana home. “He was magnificent,” Ricky recalls. “I just loved caressing his firm flanks and sliding my hands down his muscular legs. It was so much safer than having to deal with a real animal!” Police were baffled by the theft and Rogers soon posted a $50,000 reward for the return of his steed. Pink, meanwhile, was having increasing difficulty in keeping his co-habitation with the stuffed and mounted Trigger in a one room apartment secret. Finally he decided to set-up an exchange with Rogers. Finding himself $50,000 richer Pink realised that he had hit upon a way of profiting from his animal lusts – extortion.

In 1971 he briefly kidnapped thoroughbred Collie Lassie, drugged her and photographed her in compromising positions with a neighbourhood mongrel. After returning Lassie he threatened the dog’s owners that he would sell the pictures to the National Enquirer unless he was paid $25,000. They acceded to his demands. In 1972 Pink thought that he had hit the jackpot when he came into possession of a set of 1950s photographs showing then Tarzan Lex Barker in bed with Cheetah the chimp. Knowing that Cheetah had at the same time been involved with the previous Tarzan, Johnny Weismuller, Pink threatened to expose the deceitful primate as a two-timer if he did not receive $100,000. Cheetah refused, believing that Pink was bluffing. He wasn’t.

When the pictures appeared in Celebrity Scandals magazine a furious Weismuller stormed into Barker’s house shouting “Tarzan cuckolded – him angry!” and instigated a fist-fight with him. The shamed chimp took his own life shortly thereafter, hanging himself with his rubber tyre. Some believe that Barker’s untimely death in 1973 was related to this sordid episode. Pink’s reign of terror against celebrity animals was finally ended when he contacted an Irish newspaper claiming to know the truth behind racehorse Shergar’s disappearance. He told a journalist that he had kidnapped the stallion, but that it had died in a tragic accident whilst performing an auto-erotic act. He claimed have photographs of the horse with an orange in its mouth and a black bag over its head, attempting to choke itself with a halter attached to its hind legs. He offered to sell these to the paper for $250,000. After being alerted by the newspaper, police traced the calls to Pink’s Arizona home. Police have so far been unable to trace the photographs.