Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, June Lockhart!

June Lockhart was born on June 25, 1925. She is 88 years young!

I came across her first on Lost in Space, then saw her on some episodes of Petticoat Junction, and then saw her a few times on Lassie. 

Chronologically, of course, she did Hollywood movies before switching to TV, where she was most famously cast as Timmy's mother on Lassie from 1958-1964. After she left the family farm she guest-starred on an episode of Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea, where the producer of that series liked what he saw. This was Irwin Allen, who cast her in his new series, tentatively called SPACE FAMILY ROBINSON, in 1965. This series, of course, eventually became Lost in Space.

At the beginning of the series it was a straight drama, and June as Dr. Maureen Robinson had many chances to actually act. She was most often paired with Guy Williams as her husband, John Robinson, but as the matriarch naturally had scenes with all of "her" children as well as the other adults, Major West and Dr. Smith. Several times she was left "at home" in command of the spaceship (a wonderful Jupiter 2 permanent set) and was the leader in those episodes. I'm thinking of episodes such as "One Of Our Dogs Is Missing," "All That Glitters," "The Golden Man," and "The Galaxy Gift." In "The Keeper" it is her intervention that saves the entire planet from Michael Rennie's creatures. Unfortunately, as the series progressed it spent more and more time on Dr. Smith, Will, and the Robot and less and less on the actual family. In the third and final season, June had almost nothing to do and no episodes were written around her character.
with Guy Williams, these two were
*supposed* to be the stars
When Lost in Space ended in 1968, June was hired by the producers of Petticoat Junction to appear on that series. Star Bea Benaderet had recently died of cancer, so June was cast against Edgar Buchanan as the motherly Dr. Janet Craig. Her role lasted a season and a half before CBS cancelled all the so-called "rural" comedies in 1970.

Since then I've only seen June Lockhart in supporting roles. She was a voice on the obscure Saturday Morning cartoon, "These Are the Days" about life at the turn of the century. I remember coming across this cartoon in the early Seventies and not thinking much of it until I realized that the mother's voice belonged to June! I watched the whole thing and checked the credits, and sure enough, there was her name! I haven't seen this show in 30 plus years but I do remember it fondly.

Speaking of "turn of the century" roles, I was in high school when I finally got around to watching Meet Me In St. Louis. Imagine my surprise when a very young June Lockhart turns out to be Judy Garland's antagonist!
June, Judy Garland, and Lucille Bremer from
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
I also remember fondly when I was watching an episode of Happy Days where The Fonz sues Howard Cunningham after damage was caused by his having pigeons on the roof. June played the judge who presided over the suit. She was amazingly funny.

So several years ago when I actually got a chance to meet Ms Lockhart (which I wrote about here:
http://seiginonakama.blogspot.com/2011/08/my-first-convention-mid-ohio-con-2002.html )
I got an autographed LiS cast photo for me (shown below) and another one for my friend who adores Meet Me In St. Louis! Every time I visit him I see it sitting there decorating his living room.

It was one of my great pleasures to have met this wonderful lady, and I wish her many happy, healthy returns!
Happy Birthday, June Lockhart!
the first season of LiS was in black & white, so it
was years before I knew what color these uniforms were!
with co-star Marta Kristen as her daughter, Judy
in a 3rd season PR photo with Guy Williams
and Jonathan Harris
my treasured autograph from 2002
Here's June and Frank Cady as store-keeper Sam Drucker from
Petticoat Junction in 1969. I tried to imbed the video but it wouldn't let me.

No comments:

Post a Comment