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Tom Rettig from 'Lassie' Led a Troubled Adult Life Full of Arrests and Convictions

Joe Akins
Jun 17, 2019
01:29 P.M.
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Jeff Miller from "Lassie" had his life riddled with conflicts with the law, but in the end, he found salvation and fulfillment, with what he least expected.


Timothy Rettig played "Jeff Miller" on the CBS TV show "Lassie" from 1954 to '57, as the honest and kindhearted farm boy, and it brought him years of fame and recognition.

Photo of young Timothy Rettig | Photo: Wikipedia



After leaving the show in '57 to live a normal life as a teenager, Rettig graduated from high school, married Darlene Portwood, and had two sons — Tom and Deane — by the time he turned 22.

At this time, the actor attempted to return to his acting career but soon found out that his talent had no place in Hollywood, and this led the father-of-two down a wrong path.

Throughout the ‘70s and for the rest of his 20s, the former child star took to drugs, majoring in cocaine and Marijuana. He grew the latter which got him arrested at his farm in San Luis Obispo. After his arrest, the actor spent three days in jail and was given two years probation.


Photo of Timothy Rettig | Photo: Wikipedia

At 33, Rettig also got arrested for cocaine smuggling from Peru; he faced a five-year prison sentence, but later had his conviction overturned.



In a 1988 interview with People, Retigg revealed that he took to drugs to find meaning for his life, and it helped him realize that those he blamed were not responsible for his misfortune.

However, when the actor turned 35, and had lost his marriage, he decided to turn his life around. The "River of No Return" star started exercising, quit drugs and smoking, and became a vegetarian.

Photo of American actor, Tommy Rettig | Photo: Wikipedia


By the start of the '70s, Rettig discovered that he had a love for computers, and taught himself how to create "Personal Computer Database." The actor-turned programmer started Tom Rettig Associates; he wrote three books and spoke at a lot of tech conferences.


During that time of reinventing himself, the author ceased from acting until 1990 when he agreed to star in "The New Lassie," a reboot of the original show. Rettig will later inform the Los Angeles Times that he had a new profession and acting after a long time felt like learning how to ride a bicycle again.

Rettig with Robert Mitchum in River of No Return | Photo: Wikipedia


The "Annie Get Your Gun" child star didn't have any more productions after that, and in February '96, he was found dead in his California home from a heart attack.

The programmer's ashes got scattered at sea, and one of Lassie's descendants was there to say goodbye. After spending years of his life in turmoil, in the end, Rettig was happy and fulfilled with the life he created.