Here’s another one for you classic TV fiends. Does the name June Lockhart ring a bell? Well, it should. She took on the role of Ruth Martin in Lassie and the role of Dr. Maureen Robinson in Lost in Space. And while those two roles might have made her a household name, that’s not actually where her Hollywood career started.
To go back to the very beginning, we need to hop in our little time machine and travel to the year 1938. Here at the age of 13, June Lockhart nabbed her very first gig and made her actorial debut. What’s more, is the fact that she stood alongside her real parents for a beloved special that’s also super timely with Christmas only a handful of weeks away. It’s none other than “A Christmas Carol.”
June Lockhart Got Her Start in Hollywood Decades Before Her Most Memorable Roles
1925 marked the birth of June Lockhart, the only daughter that actors Gene and Kathleen Lockhart shared. Gene split his time between teaching at Julliard as a professor and taking on various projects as a stage actor. Kathleen also felt the bite of the acting bug and played several different characters including Jimmy Stewart’s mother in The Glenn Miller Story.
The 1938 adaptation of A Christmas Carol would mark the family’s first project together. To this day, the work still bears the title of one of the oldest full-length film adaptations of the Dickens classic. June Lockhart’s father, Gene, played the role of Bob Cratchit. Kathleen played Mrs. Cratchit and June took on the character of Belinda, the Cratchit’s daughter.
Though June Lockhart didn’t earn any official credits on the film, her family did play a central role in the plot. Their love for one another is at least, in part, responsible for clearing away the “Bah Humbug” spirit of the old curmudgeon and spreading the Christmas cheer.
A Family Tradition
“I thought my parents were wonderful as the Cratchits, and it was just great fun to see how a film was made,” Lockhart said of the project in the past. “I loved the Victorian costumes.”
She also revealed that the film actually followed a tradition they already had as a family.
“We used to perform it every Christmas at home for our dinner guests,” she recalled. “So I had already appeared in it, with my parents, in our living room for many years prior to doing it for MGM. We read from a script that my father had prepared from the original story. We would have wonderful actors like Doris Lloyd or Walter Kingsford playing parts and Leo G. Carroll would play Scrooge. In the film, Scrooge was played by Reginald Owen who was just a lovely, lovely man.”