JON PROVOST must have some canine in his DNA. He understands the relationship between dogs and people implicitly. Watching Jon interact with dogs has been a dearly loved pastime for generations of viewers, ever since his career-making role as "Timmy" in the "Lassie" TV series. Since his early acting days -- gracing screens from not-quite-three years old -- Jon has seen it all: the trials of child celebrity; the social strain; the sex, drugs and rock-'n'-roll of the '60s on the Sunset Strip; and battles with near-crippling depression and dyslexia. For a while there, Timmy really was stuck down a well. But he got out -- and these days Jon has a different story to tell.
2008 marked Jon's 50th anniversary in the role of "Timmy". He celebrated with the release of his autobiography Timmy's in the Well and a multi-city tour. The legacy continues.
Known as a humanitarian and expert on the benefits of using animals for companionship and psychological health, Jon's new column, "Your Canine Connection", can be read in the dog-lovers magazine: Fido Friendly.
In addition to being a sought-after celebrity guest on TV and radio, Jon makes regular appearances at fund-raisers, autograph shows, pet expos, kennel clubs and other entertainment-industry events throughout the year. His fans are legion.
His altruism stretches to children's hospitals, animal shelters, and, closest to his heart, Canine Companions for Independence, an organization that provides extraordinary service dogs to the handicapped. He has served on its Board of Governors for more than 20 years. Jon has received numerous awards, among them The Motion Picture Council's award for Outstanding Contribution as a Humanitarian for his dedication to helping the physically challenged, the Allen Ludden Humanitarian Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Youth in Film Association.
Jon's acting career began at age two when cast as Jane Wyman and Sterling Hayden's son in So Big. Jon was already a seasoned professional when he won the role of "Timmy" at age seven. During his career as a child actor and teen heart throb, he worked with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood: Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby in The Country Girl, William Holden in Toward the Unknown, Natalie Wood and Robert Redford in This Property is Condemned, Rod Steiger and Anita Ekberg in Back From Eternity, Clint Eastwood in Escapade in Japan, Kurt Russell in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and on television with Kim Novak, Jack Benny, James Garner and everyone's favorite talking horse "Mr. Ed".
By the time Jon turned 19, he'd worked in film and television for 16 years. The darker side of the '60s was beginning to take over; so, amid plentiful high-profile job offers, he escaped from the only life he'd known -- showbiz. Jon headed for college in Northern California's wine country, studying psychology and eventually settling to raise a family in Sonoma County. He lives there still with his wife, Hollywood writer, Laurie Jacobson. Of his many accomplishments, he is most proud of his children, Ryan and Katie. In 1990, Jon made a decision to return to television. He performed in "The New Lassie" with Dee Wallace. He also received a Genesis Award for Outstanding Television in a Family Series for a "The New Lassie" story he wrote focusing on the inhumane treatment of research animals. He began directing and hosting online videos about dogs and cats for a Purina website. Jon's career began afresh and has been burgeoning in a variety of surprising directions since.
Jon has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He and Lassie toured in honor of her 50th anniversary on TV. The checkered shirt and jeans he wore for seven years on "Lassie" hang in The Smithsonian next to the chair of "Archie Bunker". "Lassie" continues to air in more than 50 countries and Jon receives letters and emails from fans of all ages, worldwide.
Says Jon: "Wherever I am, when people realize I was Timmy, they travel right back to that warm, happy time where, for thirty minutes every week, they were transported by the adventures of a boy and his dog; and I am greeted with warm smiles, hugs, and even some tears along with many stories about what it all meant to them... I could never possibly have imagined what my work would mean to people over the years."