All one needs to say is "identical cousins" and The Patty Duke Show comes to mind. The 1963 sitcom starred Patty Duke as both Patty and Cathy Lane: Patty was a typical teenager from Brooklyn Heights, New York, and cousin Cathy moved from Scotland to live with Patty's family and attend Brooklyn Heights High School. Cathy had traveled the world with her journalist father and embodied a certain sophistication not found in Patty; the two girls looked the same, but had wildly different tastes (as we learned from the show's theme song). The remarkable resemblance between the cousins was explained by the fact that Patty and Cathy's fathers were identical twins.
Writer/producer Sidney Sheldon was approached to create a program specifically for Patty Duke, who was sixteen years old when the series entered production. After seeing Duke's incredible work in The Miracle Worker, Sheldon was convinced that she was capable of playing a dual role and came up with the concept of a show revolving around identical twins. According to Sheldon, William Asher added the idea of cousins into the mix. Hence one of the most implausible, yet delightful premises in all of television was born.
Much like the introductions to Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch, the theme song to The Patty Duke Show explained the program's premise, outlining the similarities and differences between the teens: "Meet Cathy, who's lived most everywhere / From Zanzibar to Berk'ly Square / But Patty's only seen the sights / A girl can see from Brooklyn Heights / What a crazy pair! …"
The show premiered in 1963 on ABC and lasted three seasons. Yet after the show left the air, television viewers would still be treated to more identical cousins: Samantha and Serena on Bewitched. And on I Dream of Jeannie, Sidney Sheldon would again have his lead actress play two roles, this time with Barbara Eden playing both Jeannie and her evil, dark-haired twin, also named Jeannie.
Television loves "matching bookends, different as night and day."
Co-Creators: Sidney Sheldon and William Asher
Starring: Patty Duke, William Schallert, Jean Byron, Paul O'Keefe, Eddie Applegate
Programming History: 105 episodes, 3 seasons, ABC
September 18, 1963 to May 4, 1966. Reruns aired through August 31, 1966.
- by Adrienne Faillace