Underdog ‘Togo’ Finally Gets Credit in Disney+ Film
Balto always takes the credit, but the real underdog was always Togo. And now he’s got a movie of his own.
It all started in the small Alaskan town of Nome, where, in 1925, diphtheria killed two children and was on the rise. Closest town with the medicine was Nenana, located 674 miles away. It was determined that a dog sled relay was the best way of retrieval (later inspired the Iditarod).
Twenty mushers pushed 150 sled dogs through the tundra in five-and-a-half days. Balto led the pack for the last fifty miles and has been basking in the limelight for a century. Including a statue in Central Park and an animated Disney movie in 1992 starring Kevin Bacon.
But Togo was the true trooper, having helmed 260 miles of the Alaskan journey. His commemorative bronze statue didn’t appear until 2001 – placed in Seward Park, the first municipal park in the country, named after President Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William H. Seward, who purchased the Alaska territory from Russia in 1867 for $7 million. (It was relocated last month to a different spot in the park.)
The movie treatment of Togo streams today on the Disney+ platform. It stars Willem Dafoe as Togo’s driver Leonhard Seppala — and a Seppala Siberian named Diesel who is reportedly a descendant of the real Seppala’s dogs.