Child actor and writer James Douglass West, known best for being a writer on “Lassie,” died of natural causes in his home in Studio City on Sunday at the age of 93.
West began his career in the entertainment industry as a child actor. He worked alongside Roddy McDowall and Natalie Wood, then shifted his focus to writing. He spent a decade as a writer on “Lassie” and also worked as a story editor for writer-producer Charles Marquis Warren on NBC’s “The Virginian,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. His death was confirmed by his son, Daniel West.
James Douglass West, Child Actor Turned ‘Lassie’ Writer, Dies at 93 https://t.co/i8QYaMKCbj
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) March 8, 2023
West’s longstanding career as a writer included the 1963 Western “California,” starring Jock Mahoney, and he was credited for writing the original screenplay for the Keely Smith-Louis Prima musical “Hey Boy! Hey Girl!” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
West joined the writing staff at CBS in 1963 as the writer for the classic “Lassie” and nestled into the job he would devote his energy to for several years. The famous collie was an instant hit and families tuned in routinely to follow the dog’s numerous adventures. The famous television family was portrayed by June Lockhart, Hugh Reilly and Jon Provost, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The writer remained with the show through two final seasons in syndication, up until 1973. (RELATED: Tom Sizemore Dead At Age 61)
As a child actor, he appeared in movies beginning at the tender age of eight. He appeared in “The Way of All Flesh” in 1940, “On the Sunny Side” in 1942, and “Happy Land” in 1943.
West served in the U.S. Army in Korea for two years and returned to acting in 1950 with “Our Very Own.”
Other credits include script writing for “Battles of Chief Pontiac,” and a two-part episode of NBC’s The Wonderful World of Disney, titled, “Two Against the Arctic,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
West retired from TV writing in 1980 and started a medical transmission business, where he worked well into his 80s.