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 withy the Miller
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
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Back to Top