Thomas Noel "Tommy" Rettig played "Jeff Miller" in the first three seasons of CBS's Lassie television series, from 1954–1957, later seen in syndicated re-runs as Jeff's Collie. He also co-starred with another former child actor, Tony Dow, in the mid-1960s television teen soap opera Never Too Young and recorded the song by that title with the group The TR-4.
Before his famous role as Jeff Miller in the first Lassie television series, Rettig also appeared in about 18 feature films including So Big, The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (written by Dr. Seuss) Rettig later told interviewers that he longed for a life as a normal teenager, and after four seasons, was able to get out of his contract. He was also critical of the treatment and compensation of child actors of his day. He reportedly received no residual payments from his work in the Lassie series, even though it was syndicated and widely shown under the name Jeff's Collie.
He graduated in 1959 from University High School in Los Angeles. In 1964–1965, he co-starred with another former child actor, Tony Dow, in the ABC television soap opera for teens, Never Too Young.
He found the transition from child star difficult, and had several well-publicized legal entanglements relating to illegal recreational drugs (a conviction for growing marijuana on his farm, and a cocaine possession charge that he was exonerated of). Some years after he left acting, he became a motivational speaker, which—through work on computer mailing lists—led to involvement in the early days of personal computers.
For the last 15 years of his life, Rettig was a well-known database programmer, author, and expert. He died at fifty-four of a heart attack.