Feb 17, 1996 · Tommy Rettig, 54, the first boy who tagged after Lassie during the famous collie's 20 years on the CBS television network, was found dead Feb. 15 at his home in Marina del Rey, Calif.
Thomas Noel Rettig (December 10, 1941 – February 15, 1996) was an American child actor, computer software engineer, and author.He is remembered for portraying the character "Jeff Miller" in the first three seasons of CBS's Lassie television series, from 1954 to 1957, later seen in syndicated re-runs with the title Jeff's Collie.
Feb 19, 1996 · Tommy Rettig, the first boy to play Lassie's master on television, was found dead in his home in Marina del Rey on Thursday. He was 54. The cause of death was not known, the Los Angeles County ...
- Acting career
- Early career
Tommy was a successful child actor in 1954 when he was chosen out of a field of 500 to play Jeff Miller in the TV series Lassie (1954). He was with the show for four years, after which Lassie acquired a whole new family. Mr. Rettig was the first boy who tagged after Lassie during the famous collie's 20 years on the CBS television network. An already established child star, he was chosen from over 500 other boys to play the 11 year old midwestern farm boy, Jeff Miller, when Lassie (1954) premiered on September 12, 1954. He stayed with the series until 1958. He made his stage debut at age 6 in the touring company of \\"Annie Get Your Gun\\", with Mary Martin. His screen debut was at age 9 and he made 17 films. His most memorable screen performance was as the boy with the vivid imagination in The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953). Following Lassie (1954) came a troubled life filled with failure to land adult roles, arrests and convictions for growing marijuana and importing cocaine, bankruptcy, divorce, and a string of jobs including photographer, tool salesman, computer programmer, and health club manager. Mr. Rettig was also a long time advocate for the legalization of marijuana.
Rettig, the only child of Elias Rettig, a Lockheed aircraft-parts inspector, and his wife, Rosemary, began his career at age 5, after he was spotted by an acting coach who lived in the family's apartment building in Queens, N.Y. After touring with Mary Martin in Annie Get Your Gun, he landed roles in movies, among them River of No Return (1954), starring Marilyn Monroe. Then, at 12, he was cast as Jeff Miller. He bonded strongly with his canine costar--who, like the whole line of Lassies, was male--and even took him home on weekends (the family had moved West in 1949). That stopped when Lassie became confused about whether to obey his trainer or Rettig. In a string of jobs he had little luck, and he was busted in the '70s for marijuana possession and cocaine smuggling. (The latter charge was overturned). After graduating from L.A.'s University High in 1958 and marrying 15-year-old Darlene Portwood, he tried to get back into acting, without much success. In the early '80s, having tried selling tools and managing a health club, he founded an est-like motivation program. But it wasn't until he sat down at a computer to compile a mailing list that he finally found himself
Followinig his death from a heart attack at the age of fifty-four, his ashes were spread on the ocean off Marina del Rey, California, from the boat LaSea, with one of Lassie's descendants present to say goodbye.
Tommy Rettig - Biography. Thomas Noel Rettig, known as Tommy Rettig, was an American child actor, computer software engineer, and author. Rettig is remembered for portraying the character "Jeff Miller" in the first three seasons of CBS's Lassie television series, from 1954 to 1957, later seen in syndicated re-runs as Jeff's Collie.
Feb 15, 1996 · Tommy Rettig Born December 10, 1941 in Queens, New York, USA Died February 15, 1996 in Marina del Rey, California, USA (heart attack) Birth Name Thomas Noel Rettig Height 5' 4" (1.63 m) Tommy was a successful child actor in 1954 when he was chosen out of a field of 500 to play Jeff Miller in the TV series Lassie (1954).
- December 10, 1941
- February 15, 1996