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.

Lassie and actor Jon Provost participate in The Hollywood Show | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Lassie and actor Jon Provost participate in The Hollywood Show | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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.

Jon Provost participates in The Hollywood Show  | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Jon Provost participates in The Hollywood Show | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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.

 Lassie, the 'acting dog' who performed almost like a human in many children's adventure films | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Lassie, the 'acting dog' who performed almost like a human in many children's adventure films | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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.

Lassie who appeared in many children's adventure films | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Lassie who appeared in many children's adventure films | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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.

 Lassie attends the photocall for the "Lassie" at Killruddery House | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Lassie attends the photocall for the "Lassie" at Killruddery House | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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.

r Jonathan Mason and Lassie pose for photos during the premiere of the new movie "Lassie" | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

r Jonathan Mason and Lassie pose for photos during the premiere of the new movie "Lassie" | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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.

The dog who plays Lassie poses at a photocall for the new Lassie film | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

The dog who plays Lassie poses at a photocall for the new Lassie film | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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.

Jonathan Mason and Hester Odgers pose with the dog who plays Lassie | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Jonathan Mason and Hester Odgers pose with the dog who plays Lassie | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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.

Lassie attends the Bill Geist Hollywood Walk Of Fame Induction Ceremony | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Lassie attends the Bill Geist Hollywood Walk Of Fame Induction Ceremony | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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".

Signage during the premiere of the new movie "Lassie" at the French Insititute Alliance | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

Signage during the premiere of the new movie "Lassie" at the French Insititute Alliance | Getty Images / Global Images Ukraine

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. 

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