One of the girls at 8 Remsen Drive liked Paul Anka records and bubble gum. The other girl, who looked just like the first, preferred the high arts. Identical cousins they were, both played by Patty Duke. At the age of seventeen, Duke was already an accomplished stage and screen actress, and the youngest person to ever have a show named after her.
The Lane family was a slice of good, typical Americana. Patriarch Martin Lane was a newspaperman with a wife, two kids, and a nice house in Brooklyn Heights suburbia. Into the mix came shy and elegant Cathy Lane, the prim Scottish daughter of Martin’s twin brother, who was overseas on business (he was a newspaperman too) and wanted his daughter to spend some quality time with a quality family. Cathy liked books and culture and was often flummoxed by the way things were done in the States. But she eventually acclimated to the American social climate—so much so, in fact, that she could occasionally assume the identity of her identical-looking but more precocious cousin.
The show brimmed with the requisite culture clash jokes, the girls’ many ‘switched identity’ escapades, and guest appearances from real-life singers like Sammy Davis Jr. and Bobby Vinton. But most importantly of all, there was all the expected but winning comedy of a 1960’s teenaged girl trying to grow up—in the midst of boys, slumber parties, a pesky little brother named Ross, and various and dire high school crises (though everything seemed a dire crisis in high school, didn’t it?).
Duke had been groomed and trained for acting stardom since early childhood, and audiences loved to watch her do her thing. When the likable girl who played Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker (and won an Oscar for it) played twins on an equally likable sitcom, you didn’t sweat the fact that you never saw the two girls’ faces onscreen at the same time, you just tuned in.
Theme song lyrics
“Meet Cathy, who’s lived most everywhere,
From Zanzibar to Barclay Square.
But Patty’s only seen the sights
A girl can see from Brooklyn Heights—
What a crazy pair!”
USA / ABC – United Artists – Chrislaw / 104×25 minute episodes / Broadcast 18 September 1963 – 31 August 1966
Creator: Sidney Sheldon / Music: Sid Ramm, Harry Geller / Producer: William Asher
Patty Duke as Patty Lane/Cathy Lane
William Schallert as Martin Lane
Jean Byron as Natalie Lane
Paul O’Keefe as Ross Lane
Eddie Applegate as Richard Harrison
John McGiver as J.R. Castle (1963-64)
Susan Melvin as Nicki Lee (1963-64)
Kitty Sullivan as Sue Ellen (1963-65)
Skip Hinnant as Ted (1963-65)
Alberta Grant as Maggie (1963-65)
Kelly Wood as Gloria (1964-65)
Ann Alford as Eileen (1965-66)
Robyn Miller as Roz (1965-66)