Former Child Stars' Reunion Is Golden

American TV wouldn't be the same without the classics, "Leave It To Beaver," "Lassie," "The Donna Reed Show" and "I Love Lucy" - TV shows that helped define an era, made people laugh with their wit and cry with their genuine child-like innocence.

Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith took a walk down memory lane and had a chat with the former child stars of the 1950's, who made TV's golden age shimmer.

Tony Dow (Wally Cleaver) of "Leave it to Beaver," Jon Provost (Timmy) of "Lassie," Paul Petersen (Jeff Stone) of "The Donna Reed Show," Keith Thibodeaux (Little Ricky Ricardo) of "I Love Lucy" all joined the Early Show to reminisce of the good old days of TV.

"This is a serious couch of Fifties TV," Smith said.

Known as "the cool single guy" on "Leave It To Beaver," Dow admits that his life wasn't as cool as his life was on the show.

"You want me to pop the bubble or what? Well, it certainly wasn't as cool as -- nobody was as cool as Wally. It was a hard act to follow," Dow said.

Some of the inspirations of the characters did bridge over into real life, however.

"I think the writers took our personalities. If they had cast a guy who was a book worm, Wally would have been head of the debating team. I happened to be sort of athletic. I think they turned around and wrote the show to fit our personalities with a little bit of overlap," Dow explained.

Known as the little boy with a checkered shirt who always seemed to be in distress on "Lassie," Provost lit up the TV screen with his genuine concern to help those in need.

Provost, who was recently featured on The Early Show for his book "Timmy is in the Well: The Jon Provost Story," brought along the new "Lassie" to the set.

Back in the day, "Lassie" would come on the scene and bark and Provost would interpret everything she would say.

"Of course, the only reason we knew what Lassie said is because we had a script. That was the bottom line! And the amazing thing is, Timmy never did fall in the well, but that catch phrase has attached itself to me like a tick," Provost admitted.

Petersen played Jeff Stone, the mischievous teenage son of Donna Stone, who became the symbol of the perfect 1950's mother and housewife on "The Donna Reed Show."

Petersen has done a lot of work over the years trying to bring attention to the difficulties child stars have gone through. He helps save child stars from the repercussions of Hollywood with his organization, A Minor Consideration, which is a non-profit foundation, formed to give guidance and support to young performers, past, present and future.

But looking back, Petersen admitted that he had a good time playing Jeff Stone.

"It really was fun. Nothing wrong with being rich and famous… or being Donna Reed's son," Petersen said.

"Well, it was so cool. And the show meant so much to so many people and that is why I'm so tickled that, for the 50th anniversary -- that's this year, we finally brought the DVD back out," Petersen said.

Finally, Thibodeaux, who played the son of TV's most famous couple, Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on "I Love Lucy," is all grown up now.

"It was a trip. It was a great honor to be on that show. I mean you can't get any better than Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. Just to be a part of the cast was an incredible experience," Thibodeaux said.
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