Lassie first owners
Jeff Miller played by Tommy Rettig;
Ellen Miller, Jeff’s mother, played by Jan Clayton
Gramps, Ellen’s Father played by George Cleveland
Timmy, Jon Provost
I was never fond of animal stories. There is nothing like owning a dog and I like basset hounds. The Lassie series was never a favorite to me. Nevertheless, Jan Clayton was a very special movie star and singer, who touched the hearts of fans everywhere. She was pretty and talented. Clayton projected both sweetness and strength required for Motherhood. I saw the last program transitioning Lassie to a husband and wife, who became the new co-stars. This was on December 1, 1957. These two adopted little John Provost.
Timmy came in the series earlier that year. He stayed with Ellen and Jeff because his real parents were unfit and they did not want him anyway. George Cleveland in real life died a few months earlier. Lassie’s producers worked this into the show as Gramps died. The story begins at the funeral with visitors, both adults and kids, making remarks about how wonderful he was as a Father to Jan, Grandfather to Jeff, and a friend to everyone. In his prayers, little Timmy asked God to take special care of Gramps.
Without her father, Ellen must run the farm alone, which is simply too much for anyone. Previously Jeff wanted to enroll in a boarding school and Ellen agreed with his plans. Enter a new couple to take over the farm and adopt Timmy. With most goods already sent to their new home, Ellen and Jeff pack up the car. Jeff initially wants to take Lassie with him and Timmy hides his crying. Quickly, Jeff realizes he has promised Lassie to Timmy and the dog would be happier on a farm than in a city. Tears well in Ellen’s eyes as Jeff tells Lassie to take care of her new Master, Timmy. Ellen and Jeff drive away with the new couple waving at them.
Prior to Lassie, Jan Clayton was a big star on Broadway. That really was more worthy of her talent.