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1954: CBS Introduced 'Lassie'
September 12, 2017  | By TV WW
 
On this day in 1954, CBS introduced the series, Lassie. The popular family drama chronicled the adventures of a female collie and her human companions.

The character of Lassie originated in the 1940 novel, Lassie Come-Home, by Eric Knight. The first Lassie film, based on the book and starring Roddy McDowell, was released in 1943. Six more films were produced before MGM decided to end the franchise. In 1951, the studio released the rights to the character to the dog's trainer, Rudd Weatherwax, in lieu of back pay. Weatherwax later teamed up with producer Robert Maxwell, and the TV series was born. Lassie ran for 17 seasons on CBS, and two in syndication.

During the show's run, Lassie had several families. At the start she lived with young Jeff Miller, his widowed mother and grandfather. Season 4 found Lassie with seven-year-old Timmy Martin. Toward the end of the show's run, the direction of the show changed, and Lassie resided with U.S. Forest Service Rangers and finally, in a children's home.

One of the most iconic characters on television, Lassie is one of three canine actors — along with Strongheart and Rin Tin Tin — to have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
 
 
 
 
 
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Good news, TVWW readers: David’s new book from Doubleday, The Platinum Age of Television: From I Love Lucy to The Walking Dead, How TV Became Terrific is now available in paperback for under $15. Doubleday says: “Darwin had his theory of evolution, and David Bianculli has his. Bianculli's theory has to do with the concept of quality television: what it is and, crucially, how it got that way."

"The Platinum Age of Television is an effusive guidebook that plots the path from the 1950s’ Golden Age to today’s era of quality TV. For instance, animation evolved from Rocky and His Friends to South Park; variety shows moved from The Ed Sullivan Show to Saturday Night Live; and family sitcoms grew from I Love Lucy to Modern Family. Interviews with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks, Norman Lear, Bob Newhart, Matt Groening, Larry David, Amy Schumer are high points... Bianculli has written a highly readable history." —The Washington Post

 

This Day in TV History