Synopsis of TV Show
Six different dogs (all male) played the role of the brilliant, kind-hearted superdog Lassie. Four different owners were blessed with "her" presence, not counting the two years that Lassie went solo. Yet somehow through all the cast and scenario changes, the heartwarming adventures of the dog with the uncanny ability to save and be saved were what gave Lassie her status as leading dog star of radio, television and film.
Lassie first fetched the hearts of moviegoers in 1943’s feature film Lassie Come Home, but the talented collie soon switched media, first with a radio series from 1947-50, then with this wildly successful live-action TV series beginning in 1954.
Lassie first lived on a family farm near the town of Calverton, where she was the loving companion of Jeff Miller, his widowed mother, and "Gramps." For three years, Jeff and Lassie would rescue each other and anyone else in a perilous situation, always at precisely the right moment. But Tommy Rettig, who played Jeff, inevitably grew up, and the show's producers decided he would "go off to college" so that they could replace him with a younger actor.
Family #2 featured the Martins, who took Lassie into their home after the Millers moved to the city. The Martins had recently adopted a young orphan named Timmy, who quickly became Lassie’s new best pal. But Timmy also grew up, and Lassie moved on yet again. This time, the Martins "moved to Australia," and since Lassie would have to be quarantined in order to make the move, they decided to leave her behind.
The Martins left Lassie with old friend Cully Wilson, but when Wilson became sick and Lassie ran to forest ranger Corey Stewart for help, Wilson decided that the trustworthy ranger could better care for the dog. No longer living on the confines of a farm, Lassie found herself able to wander into even more rugged and dangerous adventures.
When Stewart was injured while fighting a fire, he gave Lassie to two other rangers, Scott Turner and Bob Erickson. But perhaps Lassie's new freedom in the forest had given her more confidence, and beginning in 1970, Lassie had no single owner as she wandered the town in search of humans in distress.
In her last two years on network TV, Lassie settled at a ranch run by Keith Holden, becoming his constant companion. During these years, a cartoon version of the show also appeared, titled Lassie's Rescue Rangers. The live-action Lassie episodes were also making the Saturday morning rounds, airing reruns under altered titles like Jeff's Collie, Lassie and Timmy and Timmy and Lassie. The New Lassie was a sequel series that aired first-run in syndication between 1989 and 1991.
Though cast members came and went, and Rin Tin Tin and Benji gave her a run for her money, Lassie continuously proved the enduring appeal and loyalty of man's best friend.
Release History of Prime Time Show9/12/54 - 9/12/71 CBS
1971 - 1974 Syndicated
TV Sub Categoriesdrama
TV CastJeff Miller (1954-57) Tommy Rettig
Ellen Miller (1954-57) Jan Clayton
George (Gramps) Miller (1954-57) George Cleveland
Porky Brockway (1954-58) Joey D. Vieira
Uncle Petrie (1957-64) George Chandler
Doc Weaver (1954-64) Arthur Space
Timmy Martin Jon Provost
Ruth Martin (1957-58) Cloris Leachman
Ruth Martin (1958-64) June Lockhart
Paul Martin (1958-64) Hugh Reilly
Paul Martin (1957-58) Jon Shepodd
Scott Turner (1968-70) Jed Allan
Corey Stuart (1964-68) Robert Bray
Cully Wilson (1958-64) Andy Clyde
Lucy Baker (1973-74) Pamelyn Ferdin
Unknown Ron Hayes
Dale Mitchell (1972-74)