Everyone’s Favorite Space Mom June Lockhart Turns 99!

June Lockhart, 1965.
Curt Gunther/TV Guide/courtesy Everett Collection

She made her film debut playing the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bob Cratchit in the 1938 film version of A Christmas Carol opposite her real-life parents and has had supporting roles in such classics as Meet Me in St. Louis, Sergeant York and The Yearling, as well as spots on Perry Mason and Death Valley Days. But chances are you best remember June Lockhart as quintessential TV mom Ruth Martin on Lassie (1958-1964) and Dr. Maureen Robinson on Lost in Space (1965-1968).

LASSIE, Lassie, Jon Provost, Hugh Reilly, June Lockhart, 1954-1974

Everett Collection

Born June 25, 1925, to actors Gene Lockhart and Kathleen Lockhart, June appeared on Broadway at age 8 in a Metropolitan Opera production of Peter Ibbetson. A dozen or so movies later, she returned to Broadway as ingénue Janet Blake in For Love or Money, earning an opening night standing ovation as well as several awards, including a Tony, for the role.

LOST IN SPACE, Guy Williams, June Lockhart, Mark Goddard, 1965-1968,

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection

PETTICOAT JUNCTION, June Lockhart, Lori Saunders, Meredith MacRae, Linda Kaye, 1963-70

Everett Collection

A steady stream of TV work followed, including the last two seasons of Petticoat Junction, where she played Dr. Janet Craig following the death of star and series matriarch Bea Benaderet. A regular on ABC’s General Hospital through the ’80s and ’90s, Lockhart also served as a voice actor in Hanna-Barbera’s animated These Are the Days, and a cohost of CBS’ Tournament of Roses and Thanksgiving parades, and appeared with her daughter, Anne, in the fantasy film Troll, as well as an episode of Magnum, P.I. As for the beloved family favorite Lassie, Lockhart joked to series spouse Hugh Reilly that she’d been married to him longer than to any of her real husbands, and more than two decades later she reprised the role of Ruth Martin on It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. Interestingly, in contrast to her wholesome maternal roles, Lockhart was fired as cohost of the Miss USA pageant after it was revealed she was cohabiting with a much younger man.

TROLL, June Lockhart, 1986

Empire Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Now 99, Lockhart contributed her talents to the video game Tesla Effect back in 2014 and a few voice roles, one being on the Lost in Space Netflix reboot. While she’s enjoyed a varied and full career for just over eight decades, she also clearly maintained what we’d today term a healthy work-life balance, once remarking, “I’m not really affected whether or not the phone rings asking me to do a job. When you’re working, you’re very professional and you do the work. You know your lines and you hit your marks and your collar’s clean. There is a wonderful world out there besides what you do onscreen.”

Happy birthday June!


60s Sci-Fi Favorites
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60s Sci-Fi Favorites

March 2020

Do you remember all the great Sci-Fi TV shows of the ’60s?

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