June Lockhart started her career in A Christmas Carol alongside her real-life parents
Gene and Kathleen Lockhart were Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit while June played Tiny Tim’s sister, Belinda.
Classic TV fans know June Lockhart for her beloved turns as Ruth Martin in Lassie and Dr. Maureen Robinson in Lost in Space. But her Hollywood career began decades before these famous roles.
June was born in 1925, the only daughter of actors Gene and Kathleen Lockhart. Gene was a prominent stage actor and Juilliard professor who played character roles in many films throughout the 1930s and '40s. Kathleen, who was born in England, had much the same career. She often played aunts and mothers, including Jimmy Stewart's mom in The Glenn Miller Story.
It didn't take long for June to follow in her parents' footsteps. She got her first acting gig at 13, right alongside mom and dad in the 1938 adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Though it's one of the oldest full-length film renditions of the classic tale, there were plenty of short films of the Dickens classic produced in the silent era. In fact, one of the earliest scenes in film history — dating all the way back to 1901 — features Scrooge and his ghosts.
British actor Reginald Owen — who Bewitched fans might remember as Aunt Clara's boyfriend, Ocky — played Ebenezer Scrooge in the 1938 version. Gene Lockhart played Scrooge's kind and compassionate employee, Bob Cratchit.
When the Ghost of Christmas Present escorts Scrooge to the Cratchits' house, we see the large, loving family preparing for a special feast. Mrs. Cratchit, played by Kathleen Lockhart, prepares the food with the help of her daughter, Belinda, played by Kathleen's real-life daughter, June. Tiny Tim actor Terry Kilburn is the only Cratchit kid to receive an official credit in the film but June's bit part as his sister was just the start of a long career.
While there have been dozens of Christmas Carol adaptations over the years, this early version has a unique connection to TV history. The family scene that begins to melt the ice in Scrooge's soul is made even more heartwarming by the fact that the Cratchits, at least three of them, were family members in the real world.