Jon Shepodd, the First Paul Martin on 'Lassie,' Dies at 89

Jon Shepodd - Photofest - H

He was on the long-running CBS series for just a season, starring with Cloris Leachman.

Jon Shepodd, who played the family patriarch Paul Martin for one season of Lassie, has died. He was 89.

Shepodd died Wednesday in London, his daughter, Lynn, reported on Facebook.

During the fourth season of CBS' Lassie in 1957, Ellen Miller (Jan Clayton) sells the farm to Paul and his wife Ruth Martin (Cloris Leachman), and they adopt the orphan Timmy (Jon Provost). Shepodd and Leachman, however, were on the show for only a few months.

"Cloris did not feel particularly challenged by the role," Provost wrote on his website. "Basically, when she realized that all she'd be doing was baking cookies, she wanted out. When she quit, the producer felt he had to let Jon Shepodd go too. He was so disappointed."

June Lockhart and Hugh Reilly took over their roles at the start of season five and remained for years, becoming the more famous Martins.

Shepodd also appeared in Attack! (1956), The Garment Jungle (1957) and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), all directed by Robert Aldrich, as well as The Power of Resurrection (1958), as Jesus Christ, and I'll Give My Life (1960).

Before landing on Lassie, he was on such TV shows as My Little Margie, Gunsmoke and The Millionaire. His last onscreen role came on a 1963 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

His daughter wrote that he "leaves 7 kids and oodles of grand and great grand kids" behind.