Oct 17, 2016

The Boys of Lassie 1: Jon Provost

As a kid, I liked Flipper and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, but I wouldn't be caught dead watching Lassie (1954-73)The soppily sentimental theme song, the collie's maudlin whines, the heart-tugging plotlines, the nauseatingly cute boy-owners -- I thought it was fit only for grandmothers and little girls.  I'd rather watch something a little more macho, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants, The Young Rebels, even Wild Kingdom if I had to.

But some gay boys liked the boy owners -- their cuteness, their lack of any perceptible interest in girls -- and, as they grew into adolescence, their hunkiness and the frequency with which they took off their shirts.  There were three of them, but the most famous was Jon Provost (born in 1950), whose Timmy lived with the dog from 1957 to 1964.



Timmy started out a blond kewpie doll, saying things like "golly-gee" to his adopted parents.  But he didn't stay a kewpie doll long.

When his stint on Lassie ended, Jon was 14 years old, well into his adolescence, and gay boys and heterosexual girls were starting to take notice.

He hung around with other teen idols, such as Davy Jones (left), Kurt Russell, and Kevin Schultz. No boyfriends, but according to his autobiography, Timmy's in the Well, gay buddy Sal Mineo once got a little too grabby during a three-way with his girlfriend.

Jon tried his hand at singing, and starred in some movies:  This Property is Condemned (1966), The Secret of the Sacred Forest (1967), and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1970), starring Kurt Russell.


The teen magazines responded with swimsuit and extra-tight painted-on-slacks photos.

But he was too typecast as Timmy to get the full teen-hunk treatment, so Jon retired from acting, except for a recurring role on The Adventures of Lassie (1989-92). He got his degree in psychology, and settled down to a civilian career.  He still attends fan conventions, and is gracious to the boomers, both male and female, who had crushes on him as kids.