The Patty Duke Show (1963–1966)
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In contrast to today's world, where TV revolves around inane writing and situations, this show truly showcased the acting talent of the actors and actresses within it, especially the fabulous Anna Marie "Patty" Duke-Pearce. Though the vehicle itself was simplistic and even somewhat "childish" in nature at times, she used the talent she had to forge two very distinct and different personalities, so distinct and different that you actually catch yourself believing there ARE two cousins, instead of one actress in two parts. The stories were very situation and character driven, without the absurdity of some of the things that we see in modern TV today. They actually had a plot, even if it was over the top and hare brained at times.
The true joy of the show was the subtle morals and family and personal values the show portrayed. Like good television of any era, and especially of that time period, lessons were brought to us by wonderful fictional characters that we could identify with, that we felt we knew, recognized and loved dearly. How many times have you watched the show and wished your parents were as understanding and easy to get along with as Martin and Natalie Lane were? That your parents showed you the sort of interest that they did their daughter, son and niece? Life today is much faster and much more hectic, and often we miss out on the simplistic idea of our parents taking time out as this particular set did.
The entire show was one filled with good, solid values and a lot of pure, real fun, portrayed in a very realistic, but also very funny, way. We learned to laugh at ourselves and keep ourselves going from watching this show. We learned that while life is serious, we shouldn't be overly serious with it, and that just because we laughed at a situation or ourselves, it didn't subtract from the seriousness of it.
In my personal opinion, you'll find very little TV today with similar merits, honestly. The casting and acting of the show was brilliant, and I think the writing was excellent, perfect for what it was intended to be: life lessons delivered in a contemporary and fun way. I think everyone should be exposed to this show, and ones of its caliber to relearn what real, honest, good and just plain fun really is. You'd probably find yourself surprised.
The series portrays the story of two identical cousins, Patty and Cathy Lane. Cathy, the daughter of a globe trotting journalist, comes to live with her aunt & uncle, Martin & Natalie Lane. They have a daughter, Patty, who's the same age as Cathy and the absolute spitting image. However, aside from looks, these two teenage girls are completely opposite in personality, taste, and life experiences.
Patty Duke charmingly captures the dual roles of the cousins and manages to make the viewer think that there are actually two different teenagers here. There are some great special effects for that era when the 'two of a kind' cousins appear together on screen. Whether realistic or not, the show had a great story idea with a variation on the identical twins with contrasting personalities theme. Making them cousins with totally different childhood experiences, the screenwriters could make this pair of lookalikes seem really diverse.
In fact, their personality and culture clash forms the basis of the series. Since Patty and Cathy are such polar opposites, they have trouble understanding each other. The urbane, sophisticated Cathy is a quiet and serious young lady, who has been living in Scotland with her father and has traveled abroad in Europe. Patty is a typical peppy, outgoing, and very social American teenager living in Brooklyn Heights. Cathy is studious and scholastically excellent, while Patty receives average grades and is more concerned with fashions, fads, friends, fun, and sleepovers than with schoolwork. Cathy's taste in music runs to classical ('the minuet and ballet Russe') while Patty likes to bop around to the rock & roll music of that era. Even their taste in food...well, Cathy prefers gourmet cuisine such as the elegant Crepes Suzette, while Patty chooses hot dogs, ice cream, and junk food.
However, although jealousy and conflict arise (always humorously conveyed of course), it's much like a sibling relationship. Underneath it all, the cousins really do care about one other and sometimes even conspire together to pull off pranks or get themselves out of scrapes. (Typically Patty gets into the scrape and Cathy must help her out of it!) Also, the cousins are not actually that different in some important ways. Patty desires popularity and Cathy at least some sense of acceptance. And of course both young ladies are interested in BOYS. Patty would accurately be described as boy crazy, while Cathy conveys her interest a bit more subtly. The girls don't always go for the same type, but in one episode, the pair are actually rivals for the attentions of the new boy next door. I note among the episode list that once there's even a double date, have forgotten the details, but would predict some sort of switcheroo or mix up.
Patty's father, Martin Lane, is managing editor of a fictitious New York newspaper, the New York Chronicle, for which Cathy's father (Martin's brother) works as a foreign correspondent. The two brothers are identical twins, presumably explaining their daughters' close physical resemblance. Cathy's father wants her to complete high school in the States before returning to Scotland.
The father in this series really stands out in my mind these many years later. William Shallert is absolutely wonderful in the role of Patty's father, Martin Lane, the classic kind & caring American dad who's often at his wit's end over his teenage daughter's antics. This actor also plays Cathy's father in a few of the episodes. I don't remember the mother, Natalie Lane, but that isn't to say the actress wasn't competent. It's been quite a few decades!
Overall, it was wonderful programming that the teenagers of that era could relate to. No sex and drugs on screen back in the Good Old Days. However, many of the classic teen story lines are featured, including parties, dating, school football stars, teachers, baby sitting, kid brothers, and peer rivalry. Patty spars with her own younger brother, Ross, and must also cope with an annoying school rival, Sue Ellen. Probably most young viewers preferred the extroverted chatterbox, Patty, but personally, being shy and bookish myself in those days, I identified more with the introverted, academic Cathy. The Patty Duke Show was very popular among all my own school friends and quite deservedly so. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find it in re runs, but suspect that even some of today's teens might still get a kick out of it.
The series' premise may be a bit far-fetched but, considering the 1960s produced sitcoms featuring witches, genies and talking horses, it's pretty damn realistic, comparatively speaking. It concerns 16-year-old Cathy Lane (Patty Duke), the daughter of a globetrotting foreign correspondent, going to live with her uncle Martin (William Schallert) and aunt Natalie (Jean Byron) in Brooklyn Heights. Martin and Natalie have a daughter named Patty who is the same age as Cathy and just happens to look absolutely identical to her. The "explanation" for this is that Cathy and Patty's fathers are identical twins, which is quite funny as Patty Duke doesn't resemble William Schallert (who plays Cathy's father Kenneth in a few episodes) even slightly! While the premise is certainly gimmicky, the cousins' resemblance is used as a plot device far less than you might think. It's mostly an excuse for Patty Duke to play two completely different characters, the constantly scheming and slightly crazy Patty and the quiet, polite and demure Cathy, which she does to perfection. I sometimes forget that they are played by the same person. She won an Oscar at the age of 16 and it's easy to see why. Rounding out the main cast are Paul O'Keefe as Patty's wisecracking little brother Ross and Eddie Applegate as Richard Harrison, her gormless but good-natured half-puppy, half-ape of a boyfriend.
Most episodes focus on Patty's dating life or feature her jumping into a new project or scheme with a huge amount of (i.e. too much) enthusiasm, realising that she's gotten in over her head and being rescued by either Cathy or her parents. Cathy often acts as Patty's conscience and puts her back on the right track. The best thing about Patty is that, rather unusually for sitcoms of the era, she was a multi-faceted character who could at turns be kind, manipulative, sweet, egotistical, vulnerable and a fire storm. Cathy is a bit more one note at times but that's okay as she was designed as a foil for Patty anyway. William Schallert and the late Jean Byron are both extremely good as Patty's kind, patient, loving and often extremely understanding parents as they make Martin and Natalie seem like real people. They have fast become one of favourite TV fathers and mothers.
The humour is the series is gentle, generally producing a steady stream of chuckles and the occasional belly laugh in this fan, with many of the funniest lines being delivered (perfectly) by Paul O'Keefe, who was only 12 when the series started, almost all of which are at Patty's expense. It's a shame that he never got another big role (and only a few small ones) after the series ended. From what I can tell, the series is an accurate if idealised depiction of middle class 1960s America with Patty being a typical American teenager of the era, albeit one who faces more farcical situations and less serious problems than her real life counterparts. Overall, the Lanes feel like a real family, which isn't often the case with sitcom families of the era.
One thing that I found refreshing about the series is that quite a few of the extras, particularly in the school scenes, are African-Americans, which again wasn't common in late 1950s and early 1960s sitcoms. Apparently, only one single solitary black person appears in "Leave It to Beaver", which ran for 234 episodes. However, none of them are in Patty and Cathy's circle of friends and in the first two seasons only two black people - one of them being Sammy Davis, Jr. - have any dialogue. Still, it was a baby step in the right direction.
I'm curious to see how well and how fondly remembered the series is by people who watched it while it was originally on from 1963 to 1966. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, I can't recommend it highly enough. The acting, particularly from Patty Duke and William Schallert, and comic writing are both top notch. As an Irish person born in 1987, I'm proof that you don't need to be an American baby boomer to enjoy the series!
As Cathy Lane,she was Patty's intellectual Scottish cousin,newly arrived from overseas to live with the Lanes,complete with bagpipes and burr. The girls confused everybody in their middle-class Brooklyn Heights,New York neighborhood by mischievously switching personalities at critical moments. Since they were exact look-alikes,no one could tell them apart. The rest of the family consisted of the father figure Martin Lane(William Schallert),who was Patty's harried father, a newspaper editor for the New York Times;Natalie Lane(Jean Byron),the mother was the stay-at-home housewife who basically kept the kids at bay while daddy was away at work or whatever he was implied to doing. The 12-year old Ross Lane(Paul O'Keefe)was the younger brother,who was constantly at war with the girls and basically got blamed for everything that he didn't do but in just about every episode the girls get away with their mischief while poor Ross gets severely punished for something he didn't do,but was forgiven for it. Richard Harrison(Eddie Applegate)was Patty's boyfriend who was a part-time Western Union messenger(she liked men in uniform). If that is not all,Patty also had a rival who was always after the affections of Richard too,the underhanded Sue Ellen(Kitty Sullivan). The show itself was hilarious to boot with Patty coming up with one hair-brained scheme after another and of course always got in some kind of trouble with Cathy or Dad for help her out of a tight situation.
The show was so good that several guest stars made appearances. One episode I do recall had two of the hottest British musical acts of their day which was the hit recording duo of Chad and Jeremy. The others featured Bobby Vinton,teen heartthrobs Fabian and Frankie Avalon and not to mention appearances by Sammy Davis,Jr. really help the show's popularity among the teenage audience too. In filming some of the episodes for the show however was difficult since having one actress play two parts did present many problems during production especially when both girls were in the same scene. The young woman who served as Patty/Cathy's double,and was seen from the back as one girl while Patty Duke faced the camera as the other was Rita McLaughlin,who was the exact look-a-like complex of Miss Duke herself. In perspective, "The Patty Duke Show",brought out some of the things that teens in the 1960's faced especially when dealing with football games,parties,and other things of interest and this show handled that very well. However,a reunion of the original cast came back in 1999 for ABC however in a two hour television movie based on the hit series from the 1960's with Patty Duke again in the dual roles that made her a household name.
The younger sibling, Ross, started out as a pranking brat of a brother. Eventually he segued into a closer relationship with Patty; although he never really had any bouts with his cousin Cathy. Patty's boyfriend Richard reminded me of a teen-aged Donald Hollanger (the boyfriend of Ann Marie--THAT GIRL). In spite of Patty's constant antics, he was often tolerant, understanding, and forgiving. Martin and Natalie Lane, Patty's ever forbearing parents, were ideal for a teenager like their daughter. Martin often gave Patty wise counsel while Natalie tended to be more understanding from a female point of view. Patty and Martin's most touching scene was in the 3rd season when Patty allegedly broke her curfew. Any explanation Patty could give fell on the deaf ears of her father, which caused a rift between the two. Her father finally realized Patty was telling the truth and the result was an emotional dialogue between father and daughter that made Patty Duke's acting stand head and shoulders above any actor her age at that time. Parenthetically her performance in that particular episode was probably a reflection of the difficult times she actually had growing up.
I thought the funniest episodes were when Cathy and Patty were in competition--whether it be for the affections of a boy or as class president. In the final season of TPDS we saw less of the character of Cathy...five episodes without her, to be exact. This was something I did not appreciate. But maybe Miss Duke was getting tired of the dual roles, which could have made it a challenge for her to find herself and discover her place in society.
The supporting cast is another strength here. William Schallert and others really helped bring this over. The show has a feel much like the original Disney Film - The Parent Trap- because it has a strong mother and father and 2 teenage girls who are really related, though not twins like the Disney movies, and they get into all kinds of trouble.
The teaming of Sidney Sheldon and William Asher (Bewitched meets I Dream of Jeannie) is a part of the success here too. While the writing is sometimes lacking, the direction and production are as good as any 1960's sitcom. It really did not hurt that Duke had won an Oscar before this got going as well.
The late William Schallert's Martin Lane character never hurt this show either. Somehow, if Patty and Cathy got into something too deep he would come along and fix things.
AND IT DOESN'T matter that the "twin" is not a true twin or even any Blood Relative at all. There are only two qualifications necessary:
1) That the perpetrator of bad deeds looks like the protagonist.
2) That the double be evil.
IN THE CASE of this series, THE PATTY DUKE SHOW, the "Evil TWIN" idea is turned on its ear.* Instead of being anti-social and harmful, the double is benevolent and helpful. In taking the whole premise to an even higher level, the "Double", Brit, Cathy Lane, is a refined and highly sophisticated lady. "Cousin", Patty Lane is a quintessential example of what the World views as a typical American airhead.
AS WELL WE all know, both characters are portrayed by the very talented Miss Patty Duke; with a little help from split screen photographic special effects and a stand in for rear view photography. But, photographic tricks not withstanding, it is Miss Duke's ability to become another on screen person that makes the whole thing work.
JOINING IN AND offering the best of support are the other principal players: the solid, dependable William Shallert (Martin Lane-Father), lovely & statuesque, Jean Byron (Natalie Lane-Mother)and Paul O'Keefe (little brother, Ross).
ALTHOUGH THIS PARTICULAR series was not one of our favourites, it was watched regularly and we did find it to be more than just a trifle amusing. Some of the episodes even approached that favored comedy genre of the 1930s,known as "Screwball."
NOTE: This same format was reworked into the two future series: DOUBLE TROUBLE and SISTER, SISTER; but in both cases, real life identical twins were featured.
Thus was fashioned The Patty Duke Show set in Brooklyn Heights, an area I'm somewhat familiar with and which was not in any way captured by the show which never got closer to Brooklyn than ABC studios back lot. It was about two cousins who could have been identical twins.
As we learned from that theme that still runs through my brain, Cathy Lane was a girl who enjoyed the minuet, Ballet Russe, and crepe Suzette, while Patty Lane suffered from the fact that a hot-dog made her lose control and of course enjoyed the latest teen music. Cathy was the cousin brought up in the United Kingdom where apparently she missed the revolution in music that was happening in Liverpool. She spoke with a proper posh English accent while Patty was your typical American teen, but hardly spoke Brooklynese.
So Cathy was her living with her American relations in Brooklyn Heights which consisted of Patty, her younger brother Paul Linke and parents William Schallert and Jean Byron. The situations were no different than you would have found on any of the other comedies aimed at the teen audience.
Of course the playing of twins is a challenge to any player and Patty Duke met the challenge. Patty was so wholesome in her image that one forgot she had won an Oscar for a challenging role. She had good reason to worry when this show ran its course whether her career like so many other teen idols would get back on track.
I did and always have liked William Schallert who's had one of the longest careers going and in his eighties is still working. He was a great father figure and got to do it all again as the Gidget series was remade in the Eighties.
The Patty Duke Show did no harm to its star's career and I'm sure the residuals are nice. One thing always bothered me thought. The local teen hangout was referred to as 'the shake shop'. I've not heard that term used in my generation, my parent's generation, nor in any succeeding generations ever. If anyone ever heard that term outside the Patty Duke Show, please document.
One thing's certain, you won't find a 'shake shop' in Brooklyn Heights.
The program featured Duke in dual roles as herself (Patty) and her Scotch cousin (Cathy). The two are very different: Patty supposed to be the 'average' American era teen and Cathy the more mature and traveled counter. The show was set in Brooklyn Heights, New York.
The format, with Duke playing dual roles, was a real first for TV at the time. TV, films and music were riding a wave of teenage girls in the early 60's. Duke was an actress, although she, like many other girl teen stars gave singing a go and appeared on several music shows in the mid-60's.
The program itself was one of the last actually filmed and produced in New York. Others, such as 'The Naked City' and 'Car 54 Where Are You?' had gone off the air by the time Duke's program started. The Duke program, taking advantage of New York states lax child labor rules, was made there due to Dukes age (16) when production began. The program actually moved to Hollywood for a few of the final episodes. Although filmed in New York, and unlike most New York produced programs, the program was filmed in studio with no outside or remote scenes.
TPDS evolved over its broadcast run. At times a source of conflict, Patty and Cathy come to terms and eventually co-conspirators in many antics. Patty's boyfriend manages to stick around during her many flights of fancy, chasing other boys and generally using him and taking advantage. He provides a base and sense of continuity. Patty's family are all wary of her (from experience) but are supportive. Many guest stars appeared as well, most from the music field and popular with teens at the time.
William Asher was involved with the show, leading a team of successful producers and directors. Asher eventually left to focus on 'Bewitched'.
Although still doing well in the ratings, TPDS show was canceled after its 3rd season (105 episodes).
One of my personal questions about the program was why the use of look alike cousins? The whole premise was far-fetched and probably not needed to make it successful. Cathy's part in the plots were often superficial and didn't contribute much. Asher had noted it was used as a 'hook' or 'gimmick' to stand out, however, you can easily argue Duke was talented enough to carry the program as just the Patty character. Cathy's on screen time and lines were reduced over the programs run, and she was actually not in at least 5 episodes in season three. Something to ponder.
The two main characters, Patty Lane and Cathy Lane, the two identical cousins are both played by Patty Duke.
The first time I watched it a few days ago I wasn't going to watch it. I just went to one of my retro TV channels, Antenna TV to see what was on. I noticed it was on and then I looked away from the screen and wasn't really paying attention to it but I listened to it. As I started listening to the main Patty character talk something happened in me which sparked a curiosity. I noticed that some of the things she said, she said in really interesting ways. Then in curiosity I started watching the show. I noticed right away that the Patty Lane character was extremely interesting, uniquely original, and lively, and singularly unique. She was a revelation to me, and she was compulsively watchable, and I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was mesmerizing and I had never seen a character like her before. What made her so compulsively watchable and lovable, and appealing and intriguing to me was not the writing of the character and not what she said but how she said what she said, and her personality. Everything she said and did was fresh and new and completely unique and original to me. So, that to me is an amazing thing. It's also a magical thing to me because it's a very rare thing to watch anything at my age, 36(having grown up on TV shows)which I've never seen, heard, or experienced before in a TV show. She's so affable, lovable, appealing, and entertaining to me also.
Also, the show is ingenious in the ways in which things happen in creative, original, entertaining, and unique ways.
One thing that's important for me to say about this show is it's very entertaining and never boring. It's very rare for a show made in the '60s to totally capture my attention and my imagination while watching it because usually shows made in the '60s to me are boring because of the old way in which they were made, the old style of TV shows. But this show has never bored me, I've been engaged in and enjoyed every moment of it and I've watched about 5 episodes of it so far.
In the episode recalling Cathy arriving for the first time, she is supposed to be coming from Scotland, is that supposed to be a Scottish accent? Good grief, that would be an even worse slaughter of accents. Even assuming she is English, but arriving from Scotland, you don't get any sense of that part of the world being her former lifestyle in her vocabulary or habits, let alone the accent. I just couldn't get past this major flaw. Apologies to the late Miss Duke, a fine actress.