Before looking at the Patty Duke Show cast, one has to explore the entertainment world’s fascination with the idea of “twinsies” in the 1960s. For instance, there was Hayley Mills doing double duty as Susan Evers and Sharon McKendrick in Disney’s The Parent Trap (1961), Elizabeth Montgomery playing cousins Samantha and Serena on Bewitched (1964), and Barbara Eden as feuding sisters (both named Jeannie) on I Dream of Jeannie (1965). But to be fair, the person who had them all beat was Patty Duke, cast as cousins Patty and Cathy Lane on The Patty Duke Show.
Airing from 1963 to 1966, the premise of The Patty Duke Show centers on the Lane family in Brooklyn Heights, New York, with the focus being on teenager Patty (Patty Duke), whose Scottish identical twin cousin, Cathy, moves in with them in the first episode. Comic gold (which fueled 104 episodes) is found in the fact that the two girls may look alike, but their personalities couldn’t be more different (check out the show’s theme song below to see some of those differences). And keep in mind that there were no computers back then, so no CG effects, just film tricks and the brilliantly comedic performance of Patty Duke.
Other characters on the show include her father, Martin Lane (played by William Schallert, who also played Cathy’s father, Kenneth), mother, Natalie (Jean Byron), brother Ross (Paul O’Keefe) and Patty’s boyfriend, Richard Harrison (Eddie Applegate). And this is what happened to them before and after the show.
Patty Duke as Patty and Cathy Lane
Patty Duke was actually born Anna Marie “Patty Duke” on December 14, 1946 in New York City. Her entry into the acting world began in the late 1950s, appearing on a soap opera called The Brighter Day, appearing on television commercials and, at the age of 12, becoming a contestant on the TV game show The $64,000 Question. While she won $32,000 on air, it was also revealed that she had been caught up in the quiz show scandals of the time and been coached in her answers.
Despite this, she played the character of Helen Keller in the Broadway production of The Miracle Worker, performing opposite Anne Bancroft, who portrayed Annie Sullivan. Both reprised their roles for the 1962 version and both won Academy Awards, Bancroft as Best Actress and Duke and Best Supporting Actress. A year later, she was on television screens in The Patty Duke Show.
In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News at the time, Duke explained, “After The Miracle Worker, I thought it would be wonderful to be in another hit play. So for eight months we prepared for The Isle of Children. Our hopes were high, but it lasted only for eight performances. It hurt very much, but I forced myself to think ahead.”
As to The Patty Duke Show cast, she explained, “It will be aimed at teenagers and situation comedy. I really like working in television. The majority of teenagers don’t have enough to do. They haven’t got any responsibility. When they are out of school, there is nothing to occupy them, except maybe trouble. I really like my life and I hope I never have to return to being just a teenager.”
As it turned out, there was no danger of that. When The Patty Duke Show ended in 1966, there seemed to be a genuine attempt to prove that Patty wasn’t just a kid anymore. She signed on to play Neely O’Hara in the 1967 film version of Jacqueline Susann‘s 1966 novel of the same name, Valley of the Dolls, following the attempts of three women (the others played by Barbara Parkins and Sharon Tate) trying to break into Hollywood, all of them becoming addicted to barbiturates along the way.
Unfortunately, while the film enjoyed modest success at the box office, the critics despised its over the top nature and performances. As far as Patty was concerned, it didn’t seem to have hurt her career very much.
Between 1969’s Me, Natalie and her final role in 2018’s Power of the Air, she appeared in a dozen films. On television, there would be 62 TV movies between 1970’s The Cliff and 2010’s Unanswered Prayers, a number of guest appearances and starring roles in the series It Takes Two (1982 to 1983), Hail to the Chief (1985), Karen’s Song (1987) and Amazing Grace (1995). Along the way she won a Golden Globe award, a People’s Choice Award, three Primetime Emmy Awards and, of course, The TV Land Award in the category of Favorite Dual Role Character for The Patty Duke Show.
So acting was not a problem, but her personal life was. Her father was an alcoholic, her mother suffered from clinical depression and at the age of eight, talent managers John and Ethel Ross began taking care of her. According to The Washington Post, this meant that they claimed she was two years younger than she was, added false credits to her resume, provided alcohol and prescription drugs to better control her, made sexual advances, took ridiculous amounts of money in the form of fees and forced her to change her name from Anna Marie to Patty.
Added to all of that was her announcement in 1982 that she suffered from bipolar disorder (which had played a significant role in a pair of suicide attempts in 1967 and 1969). She joined forces with the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Alliance on Mental Illness designed to bring greater awareness to the public.
She wrote three books about her life and struggles, including Call Me Anna. She was married four times and has three children, including actors Sean and Mackenzie Astin from her marriage with Addams Family star John Astin. Patty died on March 29, 2016 of sepsis from a ruptured intestine.
William Schallert as Martin Lane
Born in Los Angeles on July 6, 1922, Willilam Schallert can best be described as a working actor, because he never really stopped throughout his life. He appeared in 60 movies between 1947’s Doctor Jim and 2007’s Sweetzer. On television he made his debut on 1955’s It’s a Great Life and guest starred on many dozens of series (on some more than once), including The Twilight Zone, The Andy Griffith Show, Bonanza, Star Trek, Bewitched, Archie Bunker’s Place, Quantum Leap, How I Met Your Mother and his final screen role in a 2014 episode of Two Broke Girls.
Schallert admitted to the Los Angeles Times in 1966 that he was pleased The Patty Duke Show had come to an end, and not because he didn’t enjoy it. “The success or failure of the series never depended on me,” he said. “The guys on Bonanaza all have an equal load to pull. On our series Patty played both the first and second lead. I’m sure Patty’s glad the grind’s over, too.” Diversity in roles — as he proved — was important to him.
From 1979 to 1981, he served as president of the Screen Actor’s Guild. He was married to Leah Waggner from 1949 under her death in 2015, and they have four children. William died on May 8, 2016 at the age of 93.
Jean Byron as Natalie Lane
Born Imogene Audette Burkhart on December 10, 1925 in Paducah, Kentucky, as a teenager Jean Byron performed comedy and tap danced to entertain people, getting an opportunity in 1939 to sing with a Louisville production company. Her singing skills brought her to several local radio stations, where she would frequently perform. This in turn led to stage roles and eventually Hollywood.
Byron made her movie debut in 1952’s Voodoo Tiger and appeared in 13 others, culminating with 1989’s Pucker Up and Bark Like a. Dog. The small screen beckoned beginning in 1954’s City Detective and saw her making frequent appearances on other shows. Prior to appearing in every episode of The Patty Duke Show, she was in 18 episodes of the 1959 to 1963 sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
Jean was married to actor Michael Ansara from 1955 to 1956 and two years after their divorce he married future I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden. She died on February 3, 2006 as a result of complications following hip replacement surgery. She was 80.
Paul O’Keefe as Ross Lane
Paul O’Keefe was born on April 27, 1951 in Everett, Massachusetts. At the age of 7 he actually found himself on Broadway in The Music Man. Prior to starring on The Patty Duke Show, he appeared on three episodes of Car 54, Where Are You? (starring Fred Gwynne from The Munsters) and Naked City. The balance of his credits include the animated film The Daydreamer, the sitcom My Three Sons, film Child’s Play (1972) and 10 episodes of the TV series Hot Hero Sandwich (1979). Paul is the last surviving cast member of the regular cast of The Patty Duke Show.
Eddie Applegate as Richard Harrison
The love of Patty Lane’s life was Richard Harrison as played by actor Eddie Applegate, who was born October 4, 1935 in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. His acting career began with stage roles at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He moved on to stock theater and played the part of Hugo Peabody in Bye Bye Birdie‘s national touring company.
Prior to being cast as Richard, he guest starred on 1963 episodes of The Many Loves of Dobbie Gillis, The Lucy Show and Mr. Novak. He rounded out the ’60s with shows like Daktari, Gunsmoke, and Nancy. There were also a few film roles, but as his acting career slowed down, he began focusing on what he had considered a hobby, painting. He was married three times and has three children. He died at 81 on October 17, 2016, the same year that marked the passing of Patty Duke and William Schallert.
Watch all three seasons of The Patty Duke Show for free on Pluto TV.
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