On October 17, 1974 the film Benji opens in theaters and becomes an instant family classic. The lovable film about a stray dog who helped rescue a group of kidnapped children, starred a scruffy mutt named Higgins who himself was rescued from a California animal shelter. Though Higgins had appeared in a number of TV shows and movies, the success of Benji was more than he could handle. Under the watchful eye of the paparazzi, Higgins’ life spiraled out of control in a blur of partying, drinking and a rather serious cocaine addiction. While in an out of rehab throughout the later 1970’s and early 80’s, Higgins made a series of unsuccessful Benji sequels, but was noticeably intoxicated in all of them.
Higgins reached “rock bottom” on October 19, 1982, when he was arrested along with automaker John DeLorean in a Los Angeles motel during a failed drug deal. John DeLorean was caught with a suitcase containing $24 million in cocaine, the sale of which was meant to help salvage his sinking DeLorean Motor Company. It is unclear whether Higgins was present at the drug deal as a prospective buyer, but he was taken into custody none-the-less. DeLorean was later acquitted of the crime on the grounds of entrapment by the government and Higgins was released because he was a dog.
Their time in prison made Higgins and DeLorean fast friends and shortly after their release (in a drug induced stupor) they made plans to turn DeLorean’s signature care into a time machine to go back and warn their past selves of the troubles ahead. Though obviously unsuccessful, their stories were so detailed and thorough that many began to believed them to be true. They even became the basis of the 1985 film Back To The Future and the 1990 sequel Back To The Future III (not Back To The Future II… that was a bunch of b.s.), in which Michael J. Fox plays the part of Higgins and Christopher Lloyd captured perfectly the cocaine addled John Delorean as the jittery Doc Brown.