20 Facts about 'Lassie' You Might Not Know
In the mid-1950s, when television was still gaining momentum, "Lassie" stunned and entertained audiences. The canine became a household name.
When the famous canine Lassie hit the small screen in 1954, fans were ecstatic. After the brave pup became famous through a slew of hit films it made sense to launch a series.
The series quickly became one of the most beloved television shows in history. It had a massive audience for nearly 20 years but here are some interesting facts fans may not know about Lassie.
1. Timmy Never Fell Down A Well
Even though Timmy had many mishaps during the show and often needed Lassie to save him, he never fell down a well. The scenario was popular but never happened in the show.
2. Lassie Was A Stunt Double
The handsome collie named Pal who ended up playing Lassie had been rejected at first for the role in "Lassie Come Home" because he was a male. However, after impressing the filmmakers as a stunt dog, they decided to give him the role completely.
3. Lassie Was Actually A Male
Since Pal did such an amazing job, the producers ended up casting all the dogs after him to play the role of the iconic lady were actually male dogs. Especially because the producers realized female dogs shed more when they went into heat and looked smaller than the male dogs.
4. Pal Played His Own Son
Pal was an amazing actor. In "Son of Lassie," the amazing pup played both the mother and son roles.
5. His Last Appearance
Pal played the legendary dog "Lassie" in "Lassie Come Home" and his last appearance before he passed was the pilot of the "Lassie" TV series. He died in 1958.
6. Tommy Rettig Was Allergic To Dogs
The actor behind the character "Jeff Miller" in "Lassie" was allergic to dogs. In fact, besides getting too old for the childish role, it was one of the reasons why he left the show after just three seasons.
7. Knocked Off Air
The only time that "Lassie" was taken off air in the USA was for the annual CBS television showcase of "The Wizard of Oz" (1939). The film was played once a year from 1959 to 1967 and took place on a Sunday evening.
8. Timmy Had Two Sets Of Parents
From December 1957 to September 1958, Cloris Leachman and Jon Shepodd played Timmy’s parents. However, reports claim that Cloris argued a lot with the cast and crew and was eventually fired. They were replaced with June Lockhart and Hugh Reilly.
9. There Were More Dogs Involved
To ensure the dog playing Lassie was not lonely, there were other dogs on set. When the cameras were done filming, the dogs were allowed to play.
In the early ’70s, a pup named Hey Hey played Lassie. He had two miniature poodles called Buttons and Bows on set to keep him company.
10. Jeff And Porky Didn't Really Get Along
Even though Jeff and Porky played best friends on the show, they apparently did not get along off-camera. The pair reportedly often fought on set.
11. Alcoholism Made Robert Bray Leave
Robert Bray left the show after four seasons. Reports claim that the star left due to his struggles with alcoholism however, the official statement that was released claimed he had grown tired of his role. He never acted in anything else after "Lassie."
12. The Role Was A Family Affair
After Pal passed away after filming the first two episodes, his son, Lassie Jr., stepped up to the role. He took over the role until 1959 and was followed by Lassie Jr.’s sons, Spook and Baby, who took turns in the role until the last two seasons of the show before their brothers Mire and Hey Hey took over.
13. Longest Lassie Pup
The collie that played Lassie the longest was named Baby. He was the grandson of Pal, the original Lassie and played the role for six years.
14. Baby Lived the Shortest
Even though Baby played Lassie the longest he actually lived the shortest. Baby passed away suddenly at age 8 while most of the other dog actors lived to about 17 years.
15. Famous Theme Song
The famous "whistle" theme song which the show became known for was not the original opening and closing credits. It was introduced in Season 5 and the previous four seasons had a more traditional orchestral theme song.
16. Real Lassie
The real Lassie on whom the show was based was owned and trained by Rudd Weatherwax. She reportedly lived to be 19 years old.
17.Andy Clyde's Final Performance
Andy Clyde's one-shot return to the series as "Ben Adams," after his recurring role as "Cully Wilson" was his final performance ever.
18. Syndicated Titles
When the seasons starring Jon Provost were syndicated to the daytime TV, they were titled "Jeff's Collie." Then when Provost left the series, his shows were syndicated as "Timmy and Lassie".
19. Who Was Timmy Named After
Timmy got his name from producer Bonita Granville. He was named after her mother, Timmie.
20. Full Cast Change
When Jon Provost grew tired of his role and left the series after seven seasons it led to the entire fire the rest of the human cast.