This Was Television On September 12

1954: Lassie is unleashed

The iconic collie bounded into 19 seasons of doggie derring-do, first set on a bucolic farm before shifting to a U.S. national forest and then finally a children’s home. One of the longest-running series in American TV history, Lassie‘s run from 1954–1973 exceeded the average life expectancy of an actual collie by several years. The bulk of the series aired on CBS before moving into syndication for its final two seasons.

Six different pooches are credited with playing the title role over the years, a distinction which earned Lassie the familiar nickname “The Canine James Bond”—even though, ironically, the character preferred her martinis stirred. -A.D.

Also on September 12:

1959: Bonzana, starring Lorne Greene and a young Michael Landon, debuted on NBC. The Cartwrights’ adventures on the Ponderosa lasted 14 seasons.

1966: Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz, and Peter Tork—collectively, The Monkees—were too busy singing to put anybody down, at least for the zany sitcom’s two-season-long run on NBC which began today. Thanks to Saturday afternoon repeats on both CBS and ABC in subsequent years, The Monkees is one of the few shows in TV history to have aired on each of the Big Three networks.

Today’s Birthdays: Edward Binns, character actor (d. 1990); Louis C.K., comic auteur (45); Linda Gray, Ewing matriarch (72); Skip Hinnant, Electrician (72); Josh Hopkins, barkeep (42); Jennifer Hudson, idol (31); Benjamin McKenzie, OC-ite (34); Joe Pantoliano, racehorse enthusiast (61); Emmy Rossum, shameless (26); Peter Scolari, bosom buddy (57).

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