Saturday, June 5, 2010

Uncle Hugh

Lassie was not my favorite show back in the day.

I did watch the show when I was a youngster and I thought Lassie was an amazing dog.

What I did not know until years later was that the gentleman in that photo was my great uncle.

He was my grandmother's brother. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1915, he pursued acting after serving in the army and landed a few roles on Broadway. He moved to the West Coast to pursue a role in film.

Hugh Reilly was not a well known actor. He was known as Timmy's father, June Lockhart's husband, the other guy.

He acted on Broadway, off Broadway, a few well known soap operas such as the Edge of Night and Dark Shadows.

A Google search revealed a Wikipedia entry. Turns out he turned down the role of the Professor in Gilligan's Island to spend more time with his family!

I remember him as a great, warmhearted, down-to-earth gentleman. I watched him perform at the South Jersey Regional Theatre in Somers Point, New Jersey.

The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:

Early years and career

Born October 30, 1915 at Newark, New Jersey, Reilly saw service in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II and pursued a theater career following the war. He made several Broadway appearances (including one with Tallulah Bankhead in Dear Charles) before heading to Hollywood for a film career in the late forties. HIs film appearances include Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949), and Bright Victory (1951). Reilly also worked many early television shows such as Kraft Television Theatre (1949), The Ford Theatre Hour (1951), and Broadway Television Theatre (1953).


In 1957, Reilly guest starred as George Cameron in the episode "Dangerous Channel" of Barry Sullivan's short-lived CBS adventure/drama TV series, Harbourmaster

In 1958, Reilly joined the hugely successful CBS series Lassie playing Paul Martin, a farmer, husband, and adoptive father of the show's child character Timmy. Reilly debuted in the opening episode of the fifth season, "The Storm" (1958) with June Lockhart opposite him as his wife Ruth and Jon Provost as Timmy.

In 1959, veteran character actor and comedian Andy Clyde was hired to play Cully Wilson, an elderly eccentric farmer and nature lover. When Timmy was scripted into many adventures with Cully, producers felt two adult males on the show would overwhelm the audience and Reilly was consigned to fewer appearances. His character's absence was attributed to workloads in distant fields, grange meetings, or business trips away from home.

As the eleventh season approached (1964), it was evident that young teenager Provost was outgrowing his role. Producers decided to rework the show and sent the entire Martin family to Australia where Paul would teach agriculture. Lassie remained in the States as companion to a team of forestry workers; the Martins were never seen, heard, or referenced again on the show.[1] Reilly made his last appearance on Lassie in the first episode of the tenth season, "The Wayfarers" (1964). He had made a grand total of 140 episode appearances on the show.

[] Final years

Following his stint with Lassie, Reilly was offered the role of The Professor on Gilligan's Island but declined, preferring to spend time with his family and performing in theater.[1] He worked television off and on through the seventies (appearing in The Edge of Night) and made final appearances in the early and mid-1980s. In his last years, he often joined Lassie co-star Jon Provost at fan conventions and autograph signings.


Katie said...

Wow how amazing to hear about your Great Uncle Hugh! Sounds like he had a good acting career, especially all those episodes of Lassie. I've only seen a few episodes of Lassie, but I do remember it as a sweet show. You have quite some family!

Janelle Goodwin said...

You do come from an interesting background! Thanks for sharing this with us, Neetzy.

dive said...

How totally awesome, Neetzy. Hoorah for your Great Uncle Hugh! I used to love Lassie when I was a kid (it was one of the few US shows I could watch in the early 60s).
Your family history posts are amazing.

Vicki Lane said...

How funny that you watched the show without knowing the relationship!

neetzy said...

Uncle Hugh was a sweetheart! I didn't know it was him until I was in my twentues!

We all have interesting backgrounds. We just have to "dig" a little.

Unfortunately, he was "outstaged" by a cute kid and a beautiful dog! I can only imagine him as the Professor!


I didn't "know" until my twenties. I knew Uncle Hugh was an actor on soaps and Broadway. But "Lassie" was something I could relate to!

Anonymous said...

Hi Neetzy What a wonderful story of your Uncle Hugh. I loved that show. Used to watch it with my kids since I am older than dirt. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your kind words. blessings

Idiosyncrazies! said...

Thanks for posting this Anita. He was a really sweet and gentle man.

Alan Burnett said...

What a really fascinating story, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Hugh. Like many others I just about remember watching Lassie, but can only just remember what the dog looked like, never ind the actors!

John Hayes said...

What a fun story all around including the missed Gilligan's Island connection. I'd forgotten all about the Lassie plot lines!

neetzy said...


Hope I got that right! I think I was in my twenties when I made the connection. I watched Lassie as a wee toddler!


Uncle Hugh was a wonderful man. He never put on airs.

I do vaguely remember asking Uncle Hugh if he took Lassie home. I wanted to meet her but was unimpressed with Uncle at the time. (He was so quiet and unassuming).

I didn't know about Gilligan's Island until I found the Wikipedia post. I must admit I didn't have a new photo this week so I "googled" my uncle. I figured I could find him somewhere on line. My family didn't know about the "professor" role either. He would have been perfect. I think he was more professorial than the professor.

Nancy said...

It seems uncommon to me that a family didn't flaunt having a famous actor in the family. Very humble people they must have been. I loved Lassie and remember watching it every Sunday evening just before the Walt Disney show. Thanks for the interesting post and for jogging my memory.

neetzy said...


The adults did flaunt it, but I was oblivious to it. He just seemed like a normal uncle to me.

L. D. Burgus said...

That is quite a connection. I really don't remember a lot of the Lassie shows, but I never saw it with Timmy's father in it. I must have not been watching it at that time. Great blog.