1 9 5 4 – 1 9 7 4 (USA)
591 x 30 minute episodes
Lassie first touched 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 to 1950, then with this wildly successful long-running 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 (Tommy Rettig, pictured at right), 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 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 (Jon Provost, pictured below left), 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 (Andy Clyde), but when Wilson became sick and Lassie ran to forest ranger Corey Stewart (Robert Bray) 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 (Jed Allan) and Bob Erickson (Jack de Mave). 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 (Larry Wilcox), 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 Lassie and Timmy, Jeff’s Collie and Timmy and Lassie.
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.
Cloris Leachman (1)
June Lockhart (2)
Jon Shepodd (1)
Hugh Reilly (2)
Jack de Mave