1954: CBS Introduced 'Lassie'
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 four 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.