Cats may rule the Internet, but 72 years ago a dog named Lassie ruled movie screens and then, for 19 seasons, television screens. While you’ve probably heard of Lassie, did you know that she got her start in Bucks County?
Lassie first appeared in a short story, Lassie Come Home, written by Eric Knight. The story was so popular that Knight expanded it into a book.
At the time that he wrote the book, Knight and his wife lived on Springhouse Farm in Springfield, Bucks County. Their home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Knight was inspired to write the story by his wife’s rough-coated collie, Toots. Toots is buried at Springhouse Farm. A concrete collie marks her burial spot.
In 1943, the book was turned into the classic movie, Lassie Come Home, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Roddy McDowall.
The fictional female dog has always been played by male dogs in movies and on television. The first dog to play Lassie was Pal, trained by legendary animal trainer, Rudd Weatherwax. Through seven movies and almost 20 years of television shows, Lassie was played by Pal and his offspring.
Lassie has appeared in 11 films, had a radio show that ran for four years, and a television show that ran for 321 episodes. She has appeared in books, cartoons, and has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
There is a statue of Lassie at the Doylestown District Center. The bronze sculpture was created by Pennsylvania artist Eric Berg.