Jon Provost

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Photo of former Provost residence, 1195 N. Washington Ave., Pomona, by REN

As you may have seen, today’s column is about Jon Provost, who played Timmy on “Lassie” from 1957 to 1964 and lived in Pomona from 1954 to 1959. You can visit his website and/or buy his autobiography, “Timmy’s in the Well.”

A few local tidbits were squeezed out of the column.

Provost had a role in “Country Girl” with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. Here’s what Provost wrote in his book concerning his activities on April 1, 1955, shortly after he turned 5:

“I made a personal appearance at the United Artists Theater in Pomona where ‘Country Girl’ was playing. According to the Pomona Progress Bulletin, I ate five cans of Camp Fire Girls peanuts that night.”

(Because he was a child, for a lot of stories he has to rely on published accounts or adults’ memories.)

He debuted on “Lassie” on Sept. 8, 1957. At first he and his family had to go next door to their neighbors’ to watch the show because the Provosts didn’t have a TV.

With “Lassie,” his personal appearances picked up. Within weeks of his debut, he was in the Pomona Christmas Parade — although unlike certain people (ahem), he wasn’t grand marshal — and the Rose Parade, and he also made an appearance with Lassie on “The Jack Benny Show.”

In 1959 he was in the May Day Parade in Cucamonga and weeks later, in perhaps a marginally more electrifying event, he was a guest at Disneyland for the dedication of the Matterhorn, Monorail and Submarine Voyage attractions. While there, he had the privilege (?) of sitting on Vice President Richard Nixon’s lap during the parade.

Not bad for a kid from Pomona.

Anyone want to share memories of the “Lassie” show or of Provost himself?

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  • Steve Rodriguez

    I met Lassie sometime in the mid 70′s. He was hanging around Holt Avenue in Ontario. I think he was living in the barrio, in a shack next to Our Lady of Guadelupe Church.

    This happened to be a very bad time for him; he had become an alcoholic and was suffering from post-celebrity depression. He asked me if I had any change. I gave him $3 and told him not to spend it all on beer or wine. It turns out he used those $3 to buy himself a new collar.

    He then walked to Hollywood and got himself back on his feet by starring in a few dog food commercials. Later he played an extra in “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley.” He also played the credited role of “dog in a brown leisure suit” in one episode of “Three’s Company.”

    [I can't believe you're not taking Lassie in utter seriousness, Steve. -- DA]

  • “Hal Linker”

    I believe “Country Girl” is being shown on TCM this week. So, if you have an interest and get TCM with your cable package, you may want to check out Provost. Grace Kelly is always gorgeous to look at as well. Provost was also in a movie called “So Big” when he was about three years old. Interestingly, “So Big” also features Tommy Rettig who was in the original cast of the Lassie TV series.

    I prefer the original version of the series with Tommy Rettig as Jeff Miller. And of course the original movie with Roddy McDowall is an all-time dog lover’s tear jerker.

    Obviously the “Timmy” Lassie period is the most well known and long lived (early Sunday evening before Mr. Ed and My Favorite Martian, then Ed Sullivan, on CBS, in its last few years). But he did find future roles scarce and quit the biz by the time he was 20. Do I remember him on The Dating Game? Provost did not succumb to the Hollywood child actor self destruction syndrome. He went to college and got a job.

    Apparently Tommy Rettig (Jeff Miller) did. He was convicted for growing pot and smuggling cocaine.

    [Yes, you do remember Provost from "The Dating Game." From his book, he wasn't that interested in acting and didn't pursue roles post-"Lassie." -- DA]

  • Steve F.

    Jon went to grade school with us at Kingsley. He lived right across the street in a big white house on the corner of Lincoln and Washington.

    His sister, Francille, was in our class. He was about 3 years younger. I corresponded with him briefly a few years back, he doesn’t remember too much of those early days.

    I was hoping he’d remember the time he punched me in the gut and made me drop all of my plaster-of-paris creations I’d just made during a summer art class. I chased him down the hallway tackling him out on the grass between the classrooms, and was getting ready to make him pay big time when a few older kids pulled me off and reminded me that he was a “big star”.

    His family moved away after he got the Lassie gig.

    On a side note, Francille was the first girlfriend of another Pomona luminary, Bob Seagren. I will never forget the day he confided in me that they had actually “held hands”! I still get a chuckle over that one.

    Steve F.

    [Thanks for the recollections, Steve. -- DA]

  • Bob House

    This post got me to look up the Lassie show on Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) where I discovered the interesting (to me anyway) and ironic fact that the actor who played “Porky,” Jeff’s (Tommy Rettig) friend in the original series, went on to a long, successful career in show business, unlike either Rettig or Provost.

    Also, and I’m willing to bet Mr. “Linker” has this answer, wasn’t there some minor scandal years ago — after the show ended — about one of the “Mom” actresses (June Lockhart or Jan Clayton) dating rock musicians 20 or 30 years her junior?

  • “Hal Linker”

    Hi Steve F.

    Wow! Sounds like you never got to settle that old score with “Timmy.”

    Next time he visits Pomona let’s tie him to the basketball pole with jump ropes and pants him!

    Just joking.

    Great stories about Provost and Seagren!!

  • “Hal Linker”

    Hi Bob House:

    Man, I envied Timmy every time he buried his head in June Lockhart’s ample bosom. What a lucky kid!

    When she moved on to Lost In Space I was completely distracted by Marta Kristen (my only reason for watching the show). Still, Lockhart was a total milf! I mean, I wouldn’t turn down a slice of her “space pie.”

    Contrary to her wholesome image, Lockhart was quite the boho free spirit and never remarried after her divorce in 1959.

    There was a bit of a scandal I think sometime in the 1970′s when it was discovered that she was living with a guy approximately half her age (Hadla may know about the particulars on the guy). I think that this discovery caused her termination as one of the co-hosts of the Miss USA beauty pageants.

    Rock On!, June!

  • G. Taylor

    I vaguely remember (I was 5 or 6 years old) playing with Jon Provost at his house. His dad and mine worked together and his dad wanted him to play with some nice, average (non-TV) kids. I do remember that I had a good time playing with Jon.