Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Good night and may God bless Patty Duke. In the Cineverse, she earned the Oscar for playing Helen Keller in "The MIracle Worker." Then in one of the dimensions of the TV Universe, she returned to that story... but this time playing Annie Sullivan, Keller's teacher.

So many characters she contributed to Earth Prime-Time, many of them one-shots or TV movie appearances (including both versions of 'Hawaii Five-O' and a continuation of the story of "Rosemary's Baby".)  Besides Annie Sullivan, another historical figure she played in the greater TV Universe was Martha Washington.

Patty Duke had starring roles in several TV series:
  • 'Captains And The Kings'
  • 'Amazing Grace'
  • 'It Takes Two'
  • 'Karen's Song'
And in an alternate dimension, she was Julia Mansfield, the President of the United States. (This was a TV dimension which is also home to 'Corey In The House', '1600 Penn', 'Nancy', and 'Mr. President'.)

Of course, first and foremost for fans of Classic TV, Patty Duke will always be remembered for playing Patty and Cathy Lane, identical cousins in 'The Patty Duke Show'. It wasn't such a long shot for two cousins to be nearly identical in this case, since their fathers were twins as well. (It's tele-genetics, don't question it!)

We were fortunate enough for the chance to revisit the cousins in a TV movie reunion, "Still Rockin' In Brooklyn Heights", which found that Cathy had married since the show's ending. (Her new last name was MacAllister.)

Unfortunately there never were - at least as far as I can tell - any crossovers with other sitcoms of the day, nor any return appearances in later sitcoms a la Alan Brady showing up on 'Mad About You'. Just off the top of my head, I would have loved to have seen a cameo by both Cathy and Patty as passengers in a Sunshine Cab for an episode of 'Taxi', for instance.

The closest we came was in her last TV appearance: Ms. Duke played Grandma Janice and Great Aunt Hillary last year in "Grandma-A-Rooney", an episode of 'Liv And Maddie'.

'The Patty Duke Show' is a major influence for the Toobworld Dynamic because of that concept of "Identical Cousins". I use it to splain how two characters played by the same actor but on different shows could be related. (Of course, cynic that I am, the usual reason behind identical cousins is that they are really half-brothers/half-sisters who had philandering fathers.)

In my first Toobworld novel, "Live From New York", I invoke 'The Patty Duke Show' because of my main characters - Toob and Thom Cooper. Toob is more carefree, the wild and crazy guy type like Patty was. (Although I don't think a hot dog would make him lose control.) Meanwhile, Thom was the more reserved half of that equation, but without the Scottish accent.

This is shaping up to be a horrible year for fans of Classic TV as we keep losing the actors and actresses who provided so much of the populace for Toobworld. Sadly, Time - and Prime-Time - marches on. As for Patty and Cathy's continued existence in Toobworld, I'm inclined to let them enjoy their later years as "golden girls". Eventually though, yes, both of them will pass away, but I don't think it should happen at the same time.....

I don't think there's any reason to fear that some network suit (May they be nibbled to death by ducks!) would do an exact remake, rebooting the same characters. And a major reason for that would probably be due to Patty Duke's name in the title. She is indelibly connected to those roles because of that. (However, the premise is viable for re-use and I have no problem with a new iteration of identical cousins in the new millenium. It would actually be a nice tip of the hat to what she gifted us.

My condolences to her family and to her friends, and to all of the many fans of her television and movie roles. She will live on in our memories and in syndication......

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