A Moment with a 4 Legs & a Tail Celebrity
Every year Hollywood rolls out the red carpet to honor their best. It was 70 years ago when Lassie Comes Home was nominated for an Oscar, and though the iconic picture didn’t win the award for Best Cinematography in 1944, she did win hearts for generations to come. 4 Legs & a Tail recently caught up with the film and TV star.
Lassie– Let’s stop right there. Nice intro, but I’m not a “she”. (The fact is, every Lassie has been a male.)
4LT– That’s interesting since I recall many references to you being a girl. Did that bother you?
Lassie- It was fine on the set, but brutal at the kennel. You know how sensitive teenage dogs can be. Right! Actually, the original Lassie was a female, but she freaked out during an action scene. I was the trainer, Rudd Weatherwax’s, collie and he gave me the stunt and I kept the role. Subsequently, males were used because our coats stay thicker in the summer.
4LT– For those unfamiliar with the movie, a couple falls on hard times, and are might to sell their collie to some rich guy, and the couple’s kid is heartbroken. The rich guy takes Lassie away where his grand-daughter senses Lassies unhappiness and arranges her/his escape. Along the way, you face many perils from violent storms to dog catchers, but you also meet some wonderful folks, until you are finally reunited with your family. Is that pretty much the story?
Lassie- You got it! The role of the grand-daughter was played by a young Elizabeth Taylor who only made 100 bucks a week while I was pulling down $250.
4LT- Was there any animosity due to the income disparity?
Lassie- She was always cool with it. She said I made her a star, which could be true since the part was originally played by Maria Flynn.
4LT- There were seven sequels to the movie. What made you leave the silver screen?
Lassie- It wasn’t my decision. MGM felt they had squeezed all they could and sold the rights. Big mistake! I went on for another 19 years with 17 of them on CBS.
4LT- I thinks everyone remembers Lassie from TV.
Lassie- Here’s a good one the next time you’re playing trivia. Who was the original mom in the Lassie TV series?
4LT– June Lockhart. I win!
Lassie- Loser! It was actually Cloris Leachman. She left the show after a couple of years. Some say she didn’t like playing second fiddle to a dog. Other accounts said she dissed Campbell Soup, one of our major sponsors at the time. Either way, June was much nicer. I think Leachman was a cat person.
4LT- They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Lassie Come Home hit the big screen more than 70 years ago which makes you at least 490 in dog years. What new tricks do you still have in you?
Lassie- When I was a pup, my biggest vise was chasing motorcycles. These days, I’m too old to run down a Harley, but I wouldn’t mind cruising the interstate on the back of a V-Twin.