“But They’re Cousins, Identical Cousins”


The Patty Duke Show overlapped The Beatles first coming to America and somehow she was part of that era for me. The television show which ran from 1963–1966 was perfectly tailored to Patty Duke’s acting talents, where she played two cousins, a demure Scottish girl, Kathy, and Patty, a swinging teen from Brooklyn Heights. A great supporting cast too, with William Schallert as the mildly acerbic father and Paul O’Keefe as her annoyingly nerdy younger brother.

Duke’s greatest role, however, was as Helen Keller in the stage and screen versions of William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker. Later on in her career she got to act in the play again,  this time playing Annie Sullivan to Melissa Gilbert’s Helen.

Watching the opening titles again made me laugh when I saw the mirror sequence. Of course, that mirror bit had been done a number of times before, including most famously the Marx Brothers in Duck Soup (and I recently ran across the Chaplin short The Floorwalker where there is a kind of an ur-version of the routine) but what made me laugh was considering that the joke inherent in most mirror routines is that of two people acting as one; but in The Patty Duke Show it was one person in the mirror acting as two.

In a strange turn of irony, later in life, Patty Duke was diagnosed as bipolar, and she devoted much of her later years to mental health causes. But she was a really wonderful actor who died just this past March.

Thanks to YouTuber TeeVees Greatest

Leave a Reply