For nearly two decades, many of us fondly remember tuning in to witness the latest escapades of television’s most renowned canine star, Lassie. This beloved Rough Collie, along with her human companions, graced our screens for an impressive 17 seasons, spanning from 1954 to 1973. Lassie even made the remarkable transition from black and white to color in the ’60s.
However, amid the enduring legacy of Lassie, one unforgettable character stands out—the adorable young boy who joined the show in its fourth season when his family adopted Lassie. That boy was 7-year-old Timmy Martin, portrayed by Jon Provost.
Now, Jon Provost, the actor behind Timmy, has celebrated his 72nd birthday and shares the joy he experienced while filming alongside his four-legged friend. He also reflects on how he was discovered by Hollywood at the tender age of 3.
Jon, a Los Angeles native, recalled that at the age of 3, he was taken to an audition for a Jane Wyman movie because his mother was a devoted fan and hoped to secure her autograph. Remarkably, out of 200 children auditioning for the role, Jon clinched it.
It wasn’t initially evident that Jon would pursue an acting career, as his father worked in an entirely different field—he was an aeronautical engineer. “My parents weren’t Hollywood people. My father is from Alabama, and my mother is from Texas,” Jon remarked.
At the age of 4, he secured a role in a movie starring Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby. “I didn’t have an agent. I got one, and that led to more movies like ‘The Country Girl’ with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. I did about 12 movies before I started ‘Lassie,'” he shared with Fox News.
Jon fondly remembered the bonds he formed with the three different male dogs that portrayed the female character Lassie. He developed the closest bond with the last dog to play Lassie, with whom he worked for five years. They grew up together, spending weekdays and sometimes weekends side by side. He humorously added, “The actors made more mistakes than the dog. They were more of a problem.”
After departing from the show at the age of 14, Jon went on to work alongside renowned stars like Natalie Wood and Kurt Russell. Remarkably, he never succumbed to the pitfalls that often befall Hollywood child actors. He attributed this to his parents’ supportive approach, saying, “My parents let me pretty much do what I wanted to do. I didn’t have to take a job. When I left Hollywood, I thought it was a good thing that I did.”
Today, Jon resides in Northern California, away from the spotlight, but he continues to receive fan mail from his time on “Lassie.” In 1994, he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Meanwhile, Lassie, the beloved canine character, became so popular that she even had her own riveting radio series.
In 1979, Jon Provost tied the knot with Sandy Goosens, with whom he had two children, Ryan and Katie. After 14 years of marriage, the couple divorced on December 20, 1993. In 1999, Jon Provost found love again when he married Laurie Jacobson, a well-known researcher and author.
The adventures of this heartwarming duo were cherished by many, with each episode imparting valuable life lessons. With morals embedded in every storyline, it was the perfect show for children.
Please share this heartwarming story with all the “Lassie” fans you know.