Jon was a Personable little movie and TV actor. He was born and raised in Los Angeles (1947). He began acting as a toddler, only 3 years old. He appeared with major movie stars--but of course is most famous cast partner was Lassie. And given the connection between boys and dogs, he and Tommy Rettig stand out as child actors. He began his run on the 'Lassie' TV series at age 7 years (1954). And it is with Lassie that he will ever be associated. Countless images show Jon with his arms around his heroic co-star.
His first movie role was 'So Big' (1953) where he played Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden's son.
He then appeared in 'The Country Girl' (954), this time as Bing Crosby's and Grace Kelly's son.
Next was 'Back from Eternity' (1956) with Rod Steiger and Anita Ekberg.
His biggest film appearance was 'Escapade in Japan' (1957). Here he wears short pants in contrast to his more standard American Timmy Martin Lassie role. His largest movie role was in 'Escape in Japan'. If you look carefully you can see Clint Eastwood. In the midst of all of this he was chosen at the age of 7 as Tommy Rettig's replacement in the 'Lassie' TV series beginning in 1957. Tommy by this time was too old for doggie adventures. The farm was sold to the Martins and Lassie had a new partner. (Actually there were several Lassies.
Jon worked very closely with Rudd Weatherwax, the famed owner and trainer of the dogs who played Lassie, beginning with 1940s films. Timmy's outfits were like those Jeff ((Tommy Rettig's character) wore, a kind of 1950s fashion time warp. It was all jeans and Keds. His outfit in fact became such a part of Americana that they hang in the Smithsonian next to Archie Bunker's chair. While on the Lassie show he appeared on may TV shows and even go to meet the famous talking horse--Mister Ed. The Lassie series ended (1964). Lassie and the Martins were off to Australia. It was also the begginging of the end of Jon's showbiz career. His last movie was a small role as a young adult with Kurt Russel in , The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969). He had trouble adjusting to the end of his show business career. Had trouble with depression, but managed to avoid the disasters of many show-biz kids. Jon decided to make a decision to return to television. He appeared in 'The New Lassie' (1989) with Dee Wallace. There was even nostalgic episodes with Roddy McDowall, who had starred in the first movie 'Lassie Come Home' (1943) and Lassie's first TV master, Tommy Rettig, making guest appearances.
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