Full Name at Birth
Thomas Noel Rettig
Queens, New York, USA
Claim to Fame
Brown - Light
Place of Death
Marina del Rey, California, USA
Cause of Death
Thomas Noel Rettig, known as Tommy Rettig (December 10, 1941 – February 15, 1996), was an American child actor, computer software engineer, and author. Rettig is remembered for portraying the character "Jeff Miller" in the first three seasons of CBS's Lassie television series, from 1954 to 1957, later seen in syndicated re-runs as Jeff's Collie. He also co-starred with another former child actor, Tony Dow, in the mid-1960s television teen soap opera Never Too Young and recorded the song by that title with the group The TR-4.
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Profile Bio Text
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 1954's River of No Return, 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.
At the end of Tommy's life, he was again reunited with Lassie, as his ashes were spread off the coast of Marina del Rey onboard the LaSea, with Lassie present to say goodbye
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