Lassie: Part 2

lassie title screen circa 1958
The Lassie title screen from the original TV show.
The beloved collie called Lassie has been one of the most famous pet dog icons since the 1940s. We discussed, in our earlier article, the background surrounding the affable dog and the years of film and media surrounding her / him.

The first Lassie movie was released in 1945 and many thought it would not be very popular. After all, animal movies were not a big thing back then. But the popularity was astounding and the movie was named one of the years top ten films. The collie who played Lassie, a male dog named Pal, was rocketed to stardom. The movies made thereafter were just as popular, and Lassie movies were made regularly for over 50 years.

Lassie, the Radio Star?

The next big thing was the Lassie radio show, which can be downloaded for free at the Internet Archive. This started before television was the big thing worldwide, and people were still enjoying radio shows for their Friday night entertainment. The radio show premiered in 1947 and featured human characters for Lassie to interact with, and the voice of the barking Lassie was voiced by a few different dogs over the years. The radio show ran from 1947 to about 1950. It was a weekly show, about 15 minutes long, and featured Lassie in situations where she needed to help others.

The Lassie TV Shows

In 1954, the Lassie TV series began. It ran for the tremendous length of 19 years. It was the very first family drama TV series. It won several awards, including an Emmy for best children's program. The show was filmed in black and white until 1964, which was the time when the show changed a bit and Lassie began living with park rangers or on her own. The show began being filmed in color at that time, and aired for a few more years before beginning reruns.

Later, another series called The New Lassie tried to pick up where the show had fallen off. This began in 1989, but alas, this show was not nearly as well received , and only ran for two seasons. In 1997, television tried again, with Lassie being remade and run on YTV in Canada. Animal Planet also showed this series in the US. It ran for 2 years and had 49 episodes. In the typical Lassie fashion, the dog was played by descendants of the original actor, Pal, through most of the show. At one point, the Pal descendant was pulled from the show, but fans protested so much that the producers again replaced the non-Pal descendant with another one named Hey Hey (hey, I've heard of stranger pet names).

Again in 2007, a new series called Lassie's Pet Vet was created. A product line of food and treats was a result of this one. It ran for only one season and aired on PBS. This show was more of a reality-style series and was meant to give pet owners advice on the health and well being of their dogs. The show featured Lassie and a celebrity veterinarian named Dr. Jeff Werber. It was a good, informational show that could answer questions for curious dog owners on a variety of subjects.

Lassie was also made into an animated series called Lassie's Rescue Rangers. The Lassie character has made a few cameo appearances on non related shows. She was in the movie Taxi, as a pet dog in one of the scenes, and she also walked on to the American version of Whose Line is it Anyway? She was the subject of the duet singing skit put on by Wayne Brady and Brad Sherwood. As always, Lassie was a bit hit!

Lassie in Print

Along with the countless movies and television shows, several books for children and young adults have been made featuring Lassie. She has also been on the cover of many magazines and was once photographed with the first lady, Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. They owned a white collie in the white house during the Johnson presidency, and during the photo session, the prez's dog reportedly was not happy to have a rival. He attacked Pal, AKA Lassie, and the photo shoot was over.

Lassie was also the subject of comic books, collectible figurines, puzzles, computer games, and there were a few View-Master sets made with Lassie as the subject. There is even a documentary on Lassie called The Story of Lassie.

All in all, Lassie could be viewed as one of the hardest working dogs in showbiz. She has been delighting the hearts of people everywhere for years and will most likely continue to do so for years to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment