Uncle Petrie or, Petrie J. Martin is a fictional character in the long-running American television series Lassie. Petrie is portrayed by George Chandler. The character was created to fill the "grandfatherly" role once occupied by George Cleveland as George "Gramps" Miller in the first several seasons of the show. Cleveland's death during fourth season filming forced producers to revamp the show with a complete cast change and an entirely new storyline. The Miller family of the first three seasons was dropped from the plot and a young couple, the Martins, brought in to buy the Miller farm and adopt the Miller foster child, Timmy.
Uncle Petrie is Paul Martin's uncle and debuts in the fourth season episode "The Ring". There, he joins the family on the farm when Ruth Martin summons him from Millvale, Pennsylvania to help with the work. Timmy takes an instant dislike to Uncle Petrie, but is won over when Uncle Petrie fashions a ring with Lassie's portrait on it for him. In the real world, the ring became a premium distributed by the show's sponsor Campbell's Soup with 70,000 rings mailed to the show's fans.
As fourth season filming progressed, troubles on the set forced producers to fire the two performers playing the Martin couple. Two new players were hired as Ruth and Paul Martin and debuted at the top of the fifth season (1958). The two became hugely popular with the show's fans. Surveys indicated viewers wanted to see child character Timmy spend more time with his father Paul. Producers consequently felt two adult males on the show would overwhelm the audience; Uncle Petrie was dropped from the plot and George Chandler from the cast.
- Jenkins, Henry. Lassie. Museum of Broadcast Communications. [n.d.].
- Collins, Ace. Lassie: A Dog's Life. Penguin, 1993.
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