USE Yourself exclusive SET TALK OFF CLEAR DO WHILE ALIVE STORE "LOVE" TO heart STORE "health" TO body STORE "peace" TO mind STORE "compassion" TO others STORE "esteem" TO self STORE "faith" TO God REPLACE Negative WITH Positive , ; Judgment WITH Acceptance , ; Resentment WITH Forgiveness REPLACE Hopelessness WITH Choice , ; Confusion WITH Clarity , ; Procrastination WITH Participation REPLACE Separation WITH Connection , ; Lack WITH Abundance , ; Sorrow WITH Celebration @ all, times SAY your_truth If its_time EXIT ENDIF ENDDO SAVE TO Always CLEAR ALL RETURN EOF: remember.prg
Tom had every right to a high opinion of himself. Child actor Tommy Rettig had great success, starring in several movies, and playing Jeff Miller, the first owner of TV's "Lassie." Tom reprised the role a few years ago in an episode of "The New Lassie" series; he wrote the script that had Lassie using a computer (helped by himself as a grown-up Jeff Miller). This was especially fitting, because as an adult, 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.
As news of Tom's death (from natural causes) spread, dozens of people posted messages on the Fox forums. Those messages, while deeply touching, were remarkable for their similarity. Here are a few examples:
"He spoke to people as peers, whether they were on a guru or novice level. He never seemed condescending. Once he was introduced to me, he remembered my name and always greeted me by it as if I was a long lost friend."
"What a class act: Here he is, an acknowledged guru, author and vendor of a powerful FoxPro development environment (Tom Rettig's Office), and instead of talking about himself, he asks about my (relatively piddling) work."
"Somehow when we were around Tom we got to be more valuable than we were before--smarter, funnier, more gracious. And he seems to have made everybody feel like that."
TCM: "Natural, not overly-cute, sincere and obviously intelligent, Tommy Rettig was a child actor who didn’t get on your nerves. And that’s saying quite a bit."
As you might have guessed, real life as a kid actor wasn't as idyllic as on TV. From a 1981 interview:
HIGH TIMES: Why did you get out of "Lassie"?
RETTIG: We sued the producers of the show for four years in a row. One year they put out a Lassie doll with my picture on it and paid me no royalties. They owned the name Lassie and they owned the name of my role, Jeff Miller. We took them to court and they had to either take my picture off or pay me a royalty, so they took the picture off. Another year we took them to court because they told us they were going to pay my salary in savings bonds: "We owe Tommy ten thousand dollars so we'll pay him seventy-five hundred dollars and in three years it'll be ten thousand dollars." Unbelievable sh*t. So, in the last year, the whole cast sued for release from our contracts. It didn't upset the producer at all: "I've still got the dog, don't I" And he did. That's all it took. I'm now syndicated under "Jeff's Collie," and, of course, I make not one cent in residuals.
HIGH TIMES: Hooray for Hollywood. You did "Burns and Allen." What was it like?
RETTIG: Look, I did almost all the hit shows. They were all just another gig. You go there, you get your script, you say some lines, Gracie Allen says some lines, people laugh, George Burns says some lines, people laugh, show ends, you ask for their autograph, pick up your check and go home.
High Times: Fun?
RETTIG: It was work.
But for a teenage boy, it did have a bright side:
Fame did bring some compensations. "I'd say, 'Gee, Mrs. Jones, can I keep your daughter out until 2 a.m.?' She'd say, 'Oh, you're the nice boy from Lassie. Of course, she can stay out all night.' I had a halo on my head, but it was hiding horns."