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Lassie

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LassieJimmyRowlf

Jimmy Dean, Rowlf and Lassie.

Lassie

Lassie's picture on The Muppet Show

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Lassie and Big Bird on Sesame Street

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Lassie, "the world's most famous dog," is a fictional character who has been the subject of many movies, TV shows, and books over the years.

The character of Lassie is a Rough Collie created by British-American author Eric Knight in Lassie Come-Home, which was published as a short story in The Saturday Evening Post in 1938 and as a novel in 1940. In 1943, the book was made into what would become the first Lassie movie, also titled Lassie Come Home. The television series Lassie aired from 1954 to 1974. The character has proven to be so popular that it is one of only three dogs awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the others being Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart. Lassie also beat our Kermit for the top spot in Animal Planet's 50 Greatest TV Animals.

The first dog to play the role of Lassie was Pal, who was owned by animal trainer Rudd Weatherwax and his brother Frank Weatherwax. Before Pal's death, he was bred with a number of bitches, resulting in hundreds of offspring, several of which have performed under the name Lassie. Most have been male, because their coats are usually fuller and more impressive than the females'. Because the males tend to be larger, they are considered more physically suitable to perform many of Lassie's stunts. The character of Lassie, however, is female and often referred to as "girl." As is usually the case with canine film stars, several uncredited doubles have been employed in the films and TV shows. Currently, the "official" Lassie is used mainly for "celebrity appearances" at dog shows.

Appearances

References

  • In The Muppets on Puppets, when Rowlf learns that he's a puppet, he wonders outloud how he's going to explain it to Lassie.
  • A photograph of Lassie adorns Rowlf's locker in The Muppets Take Manhattan. According to a 2011 interview with Yamaha All Access, Jimmy Dean "even introduced me to Lassie. Nice girl. We dated for a while, but it didn't work out. We still exchange Christmas cards, though."

Quotes

Actually, the [number of copies] of a character is something I don't particularly like to talk about in articles, but just for your information, most characters there's only one. Somebody like a Piggy or a Kermit, there needs to be several versions, and so there will be several of them. I'm not even sure how many, because often we'll also have a photocopy –- a character that's made that we use just for posing for photographs. It would be armatured, that sort of thing, but I don't think it's good to talk about that particularly. I remember hearing that there were several Lassies, and I never liked knowing that sort of thing... and besides that Lassie was always male, which was another one of those disillusioning pieces of information you don't want to know.
-- Jim Henson, in a 1982 Interview

Connections

Many of Lassie's human co-stars through the years have Muppet/Henson connections.

  • Edward Fox played Hulton in the 2005 Lassie film
  • Robert Hardy played Judge Murray in the 2005 Lassie film
  • Ron Howard played Gary on the two-part Lassie episode "Here Comes Glory" (1970)
  • Ted Knight voiced Ben Turner, the narrator and others on the animated series Lassie's Rescue Rangers (1973-1975)
  • Cloris Leachman played Ruth Martin from 1957-1958 on TV's Lassie
  • Nicholas Lyndhurst played Buckle in the 2005 Lassie film
  • Peter O'Toole played the Duke in the 2005 Lassie film
  • Steve Pemberton played Hynes in the 2005 Lassie film
  • Mickey Rooney played Gus in The Magic of Lassie (1978)
  • Helen Slater played Laura Turner in the 1994 Lassie film
  • John Standing played French in the 2005 Lassie film
  • Alan Stanford played the defence barrister in the 2005 Lassie film
  • Elizabeth Taylor played Priscilla in Lassie Come Home (1943) and Kathie Merrick in Courage of Lassie (1946)


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