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Tommy Rettig Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (15)  | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (4)

Born in Queens, New York, USA
Died in Marina del Rey, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameThomas Noel Rettig
Height 5' 4" (1.63 m)

Mini Bio (2)

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.

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

At Ashton-Tate, Tom was one of the designers of dBASE III and wrote the essential reference book on it. He built the first add-on library for Clipper, pioneering the public domain tools that make all our jobs easier. Tom wrote articles for Data Based Advisor, appeared on FoxPro Advisor satellite TV conferences, and spoke at many developer events including the FoxPro DevCons. Tom Rettig's Help and Tom Rettig's FoxPro Handbook taught the intricacies of FoxPro. Tom's ability as a programmer was legendary - he was a guru with a Hollywood-famous name. Yet he was one of the most friendly, accessible people you'd hope to meet.

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.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: JLNCollies@aol.com

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.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (1)

Darlene Portwood (19 December 1959 - 1977) ( divorced) ( 2 children)

Trivia (15)

For the last ten or so years of his life (starting in at least 1984), he was a computer software developer working on business application frameworks. He was regarded as one of the experts, a software guru in the area of desktop PC database applications such as dBase. At the time of his untimely death he was a central figure in the community of FoxPro database developers.
Father of Mason Storm.
After appearing with Mary Martin in "Annie Get Your Gun" for 22 months, Tommy was offered more stage roles, including "Peter Pan" and "The Member of the Wedding," the latter play made famous by Brandon De Wilde. His strong-willed mother, however, decided Tommy should go for the movies. Ironically, Tommy won the boy role on Lassie (1954) after de Wilde turned it down.
Was Marilyn Monroe's youngest date ever when he escorted her to the premiere of River of No Return (1954) in 1954.
TV folklore has it that when the producers had narrowed the casting down to three juveniles for the part of Lassie's young master, they allowed Lassie herself to make the final decision. Supposely the dog walked straight over to Tommy and affectionately nuzzled the boy, thus winning him the role.
More than anything else, due to his shortness (5' 4") his adult career never panned out.
Two sons: Tom and Deane.
Graduated from Los Angeles' University High School.
In the 1970s he and his family lived on a farm near Arroyo Grande, CA, where he secretly grew marijuana between rows of corn. His multiple drug busts eventually destroyed his marriage.
While making The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (1953) he became acquainted with dog trainer Frank Weatherwax, whose brother Rudd bought the "Lassie" rights from MGM for an upcoming TV series. He auditioned and, to determine who would make the best Jeff, the brothers invited Tommy and two other child actors up for the part to spend a week at their North Hollywood ranch with the three collies who would play the lead. Tommy won the contract at $2,500 a week.
His father was Jewish and his mother was of Italian descent.
Profiled in the 2016 book "X Child Stars: Where Are They Now?" by Kathy Garver and Fred Ascher.
He and his wife moved to a California farm, where he cultivated marijuana; he was sentenced to two years' probation in 1972, but in 1975 was ordered to serve five years for running cocaine. That was dropped on appeal, but he was indicted again in 1980 for drug offenses.
For the last several years of his life Tom was a successful software developer. His products in Dbase and FoxPro were used by hundreds of other developers.
Rettig remained a staunch advocate of recreational drug use throughout his adult life and in 1983 championed a proposed California initiative to legalize marijuana. He said he continued to use marijuana in middle age but gave up stronger drugs when he became a vegetarian.

Personal Quotes (3)

With Lassie, I'd gladly work for free!
By the time I was nine I'd done everything--movies, stage, radio, TV. Everybody thought it was real cute for a kid my age to be so sophisticated, but it was murder on my emotional development. More than anything else, I wanted to be normal. I wanted to have friends, go out on dates--just lead a normal life. But things were always going too fast. Then, too, I was spoiled as a kid, and still am. I was an only child, and that was about 80% of the problem.
When I found out it was my last season on "Lassie" I was ecstatic. I had gotten to the point where I really resented not being able to go out except on Saturday nights. Of course, when I did date girls their parents always trusted me because of my goody-goody TV image. The fools!

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