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Collie

Lassie - Female collie on the canine adventure LASSIE/CBS/1954-74 (the longest running half-hour dramatic series in TV history). Originally,

Lassie belonged to Jeff Miller (Tommy Rettig), a young boy who lived on a small farm near Calverton with his widowed mother Ellen Miller (Jan Clayton) and his Grandpa (George Cleveland).

Lassie with The Miller Family
Lassie withy the Miller family

The Millers later adopt a small boy named Timmy (Jon Provost) who became the companion of Lassie when the Millers sold the farm and left Timmy in the custody of the new owners Ruth Martin (Cloris Leachman/June Lockhart) and Paul Martin (Jon Shepodd/Hugh Reilly)

Lassie with The Martin family
Lassie with the Martin family

When the Martins moved to Australia, forest ranger Corey Stuart (Robert Bray) adopted Lassie as did two other forest rangers, Scott Turner (Jed Allan) and Bob Erickson (Jack De Mave) later in the series.

Lassie and Ranger Corey Stuart
Lassie with Ranger Corey

The final season of the series found Lassie wandering aimlessly around the country with no master. She mated with a male collie and had a litter of puppies.

The concept of the Lassie TV series was based on the movie Lassie Come Home (1943) starring Roddy McDowall and Elizabeth Taylor which, in turn, was derived from the Eric Knight book "Lassie Come Home" (1940) which was an expanded version of his 1938 short story written for Saturday Evening Post magazine article about a faithful Yorkshire collie who traveled some 1,000 miles to find his young master, Joe.

Eric Knight came up with idea for Lassie while telling a story to young daughter one night. The family dog "Toots" was the prototype for Lassie.

Lassie on TV GUIDE cover

Dell Comic with Timmy and Lassie

Animal trainer Rudd Weatherwax owned the collie used in the original Lassie motion pictures. This celebrity canine (a.k.a. "Pal") began life as a lowly pup who was given to Weatherwax to cure the dog of his habit of chasing cars. When the owner never returned, Rudd trained his new dog and soon Lassie the legend was born.

Because of Lassie's ability to always make a profit for its film producers, the collie earned the nickname of "The Mortgage Lifter."

Lassie's Rescue Rangers - The Animated Series
The Animated Lassie's Rescue Rangers

The Lassie character also barked her way through a radio series from 1947-50 and on the animated cartoon spin-offs LASSIE'S RESCUE RANGERS/ABC/1973-75 and the 1996 Japanese cartoon MEIKEN RASHII (a.k.a. THE FAMOUS DOG LASSIE). A sixth generation of Lassie look-alikes starred in the feature film The Magic of Lassie (1978) with Jimmy Stewart.

In 1989, actress Dee Wallace Stone starred in the revival series THE NEW LASSIE/SYN/1989-91. Jon Provost (Timmy in the original series) had a recurring role as the uncle of 10-year-old boy named Will (Will Nipper), the dog's current master.

Will McCullough and Lassie - THE NEW LASSIE
Lassie with Will McCullough

TRIVIA NOTE: Although the Lassie character is a female, all the dogs used for the entire life of the franchise were males dogs (their coats are thicker). Tommy Rettig, who played Jeff Miller, the first TV master of Lassie the Dog was reportedly chosen by Lassie, who nuzzled the boy out of a group four child actors. The producers took Lassie's affection for the boy as sign he was right for the part.


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