Hollywood’s most famous, inspirational, and beloved ‘Lassie the dog’ is a truly courageous and heartwarming character who has touched everyone’s hearts.
Lassie has been a famously iconic character in Hollywood since her debut in the 1940s. Several novels, television series. and movies have been made on Lassie’s bravery and heartwarming incidents when she rescued her friends and the owners.
So here are some lesser-known sentimental facts about the much-loved Lassie the Dog.
In a short story entitled “The Half Brothers” by British writer Elizabeth Gaskell, one can find an early portrayal of Lassie. In this story, Lassie is depicted as a female collie having “intelligent, apprehensive eyes”. She helps in rescuing and guiding the way through a snowstorm to the two half-brothers who are lost and dying.
In the story, the elder brother & her loving master Gregory sends Lassie back home tying a handkerchief around her neck, when the younger brother finds it hard to move ahead further. After reaching home, Lassie leads the search party to them. After arriving, Gregory is discovered dead but the younger half-brother is rescued. So perhaps, Gaskell was the one who originated the character Lassie and defined the "Lassie saves the day" storyline which has been the essence of future Lassie tales.
As the writer Nigel J. Clarke says in the "Shipwreck Guide to Dorset and South Devon", the Lassie we know of and have seen in several films and TV series is perhaps inspired by a rough-haired crossbreed who rescued a sailor’s life at the time of World War I.
Half collie Lassie’s owner was Pilot Boat’s landlord where Pilot Boat is a pub in the port of Lyme Regis. On New Year’s Day in 1915, the Royal Navy battleship “HMS Formidable” was attacked by a torpedo launched by a German submarine off Start Point in South Devon.
A loss of over 500 men took place in a storm that followed the accident. A life raft having bodies was exploded along the coast to Lyme Regis. So the Pilot Boat offered help in dealing with the crisis and allowed its cellar to be used as a mortuary.
When the bodies were placed down on the floor, the crossbred collie ‘Lassie’ made her way to one of the sailor’s bodies and began licking him. Able Seaman John Cowan was the name of this sailor who was presumed dead.
For over 30 minutes, Lassie stayed beside Cowan, snuggled up to him, and kept him warm with her fur. Much to everyone’s surprise, Cowan began showing signs of life. He was then taken to the hospital and soon recovered completely. And upon returning to thank those who saved his life, he visited Lassie again.
The ship’s sinking had been a serious setback to Britain during the early years of World War I. After hearing the astonishingly inspiring and heartwarming story of Lassie and how she rescued Cowan, it was told to any and every reporter who wished to listen. And not too late, it caught Hollywood’s attention and a new star was born.
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