Mar. 12th, 1950
Los Angeles, California, USA
Jon Provost's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Forever associated with a heroic TV collie whom he frequently had his arms lovingly wrapped around, blond tyke Jon Provost actually was a veteran performer by the time he won the role of "Timmy Martin" at age seven in the series "Lassie" (1954). L.A. born and bred, Jon was just three years old when he was cast as Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden's son in the film So Big (1953). He proceeded with The Country Girl (1954) as Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly (I)'s son, Back from Eternity (1956) starring Anita Ekberg, and co-starred in Escapade in Japan (1957), which featured an unknown (and unbilled) Clint Eastwood. And then came "Lassie" (1954)... Actor Tommy Rettig, as Lassie's original young master "Jeff Miller", had become too old to be romping around with his dog, so in 1957, he moved away to college and his entire family sold the farm to a brand new clan -- The Martins. Jon's parents were played by rangy Hugh Reilly and the ever-wholesome June Lockhart. For seven seasons, audiences grew to love Timmy and his perilous adventures with the invincible canine. By 1964, however, the Martin family decided to move to Australia and Jon's reign was over as a child star. By the time Jon turned 19, he'd worked in film and television for 16 years. The darker side of the 60s was beginning to take over; so, amid plentiful high-profile job offers, he escaped from the only life he'd known - showbiz. Jon headed for college in Northern California's wine country, studying psychology and eventually settling to raise a family in Sonoma County.
In 1990, Jon made a decision to return to television. He performed in "The New Lassie" (1989) with Dee Wallace. In one nostalgic episode, he appeared together with Lassie's original master, Tommy Rettig, who was making a guest appearance.
He also received a Genesis Award for Outstanding Television in a Family Series for a New Lassie story he wrote focusing on the inhumane treatment of research animals.
Since his early acting days - gracing screens from not-quite-three - Jon has seen it all: the trials of child celebrity; the social strain; the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll of the '60s on the Sunset Strip; and battles with near-crippling depression and dyslexia. For a while there, Timmy really was stuck down a well. But he got out - and these days Jon has a different story to tell. He began directing and hosting on-line videos about dogs and cats for a Purina website. Jon's career began afresh and has been burgeoning in a variety of surprising directions since.
2008 marks Jon's 50th anniversary in the role of Timmy. He is celebrating with the release of his autobiography, Timmy's in the Well and a multi-city tour.
- Writes a column for Fido Friendly magazine called Your Canine Connection.
- The youngest actor to ever star in a TV show, seven-year-old Jon was hand-picked by _"Lassie" (1954)_ (qv) producer 'Bonita Granville' (qv) solely on the strength of his work in the film _So Big (1953)_ (qv) at the age of 3. Jon never tested for the role.
- At 20 years old, Jon left Hollywood in 1970 after filming Disney's _The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969)_ (qv).
- Jon's father was an aeronautical engineer; his mother accompanied Jon on the set and was paid a salary plus expenses for being with him. Brother Bill occasionally appeared in small roles on _"Lassie" (1954)_ (qv).
- Son, Ryan (26 January 1984).
- Met and later married first wife Sandy after accidentally backing his car into hers. They had a son and a daughter. They subsequently divorced.
- Original Timmy outfit is in the Smithsonian next to the Fonz's leather jacket and Archie Bunker's chair.
- Jon serves on the Board of Directors for "Canine Companions for Independence", a non-paid position he's held for more than 20 years. Among his many awards, he was presented one by the Motion Picture Council for his dedication in helping the physically challenged.
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