Double the Fun, Part II: Troublemaking Twins in The Patty Duke Show, Bewitched, and More

by Karen A. Romanko

In "Double the Fun, Part I," I discussed “dangerous doppelgängers,” those exact doubles who through disguise, surgery, or coincidence impersonate characters in our favorite TV series. This time I focus on troublemaking twins, doubles who are related by blood, but don’t share the worldviews, sweet dispositions, or ethical standards of their look-alike relatives.

The gold standard in identical twins programming was The Patty Duke Show (1963-1966), which told the story of identical cousins, Patty and Cathy Lane, both portrayed by Patty Duke. American-as-apple-pie Patty and cultured, Scottish Cathy looked exactly alike (except for their flip versus pageboy hairdos), but were opposites in personality and tastes, as the show’s theme song pointed out:

Where Cathy adores a minuet,
The Ballet Russes, and crepes suzette,
Our Patty loves to rock and roll,
A hot dog makes her lose control—
What a wild duet!

In truth, the troublemaking these teen look-alikes engaged in, almost always instigated by Patty, was of the sophomoric variety, usually involving the good-old twin impersonation game. In “Leave It to Patty” (1964), Patty poses as Cathy to get the latter’s pop-star friend to perform at the school prom. Patty’s motives are more altruistic in “Double Date” (1963), when Cathy must miss a special date due to illness, so Patty impersonates her, while juggling her own date with Richard (Eddie Applegate). While the show was the height of teen cool to certain adolescents at the time (ahem), the formidable acting talents of Patty Duke always shone through, changing her voice, walk, gestures, and facial expressions to bring about the transformation from Patty to Cathy. To this day, when I watch The Patty Duke Show, I have to remind myself not to check the credits to see who portrays Cathy.

Patty Duke as twin cousins Cathy (left) and Patty Lane

The twin cousins concept is used again in Bewitched (1964-1972), but to more magical and mischievous effect, when suburban witch Samantha must cope with the intrusions of her uninhibited cousin Serena (Elizabeth Montgomery in a dual role). Serena, who is sometimes credited as “Pandora Spocks” (à la Pandora’s box), is a glorious creation, part hippie freak, part spoiled child, part hedonist, but all witch, who disapproves of her cousin’s conservative lifestyle, which includes marriage to a mortal. Serena normally has dark hair, but can zap herself into Sam’s blond locks in an instant. In “Samantha and the Troll”(1971), Serena impersonates Sam, becoming overly flirtatious with an advertising client and thereby causing problems for Sam’s husband Darrin (Dick Sargent). Mistaken identity leads to more headaches in “Samantha Goes South for a Spell” (1968), when a jealous witch sends Samantha back to 1868 as a punishment for one of Serena’s indiscretions.

Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha (left) and Serena in Bewitched

The blond/brunette gambit was used again in I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970), with two genies named Jeannie, one good and the other evil, but both portrayed by Barbara Eden. Father Dowling Mysteries (1987-1991) also employed the evil twin trope, but gave it a religious twist, when saintly Father Frank dealt with surprise visits from his decidedly unpriestly brother Blaine (Tom Bosley in a dual role).

Who are your favorite (dual-role) TV twins? Sabrina and Katrina? Phoebe and Ursula? Let us know in the comments!

Comments

  1. Data and Lore (Brent Spiner) in Star Trek.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, “tech twins” is a fun topic. I like good and evil Captain Kirk from “The Enemy Within.”

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