The Patty Duke Show - Will the Real Sammy Davis Jr. Please Hang Up?

"Being split in two halves is no theory with me, Doctor."
-Mr. Spock, "The Enemy Within"

For this edition of TV Proms, let's have a look at "Will the Real Sammy Davis Jr. Please Hang Up?", the 25th episode of the 2nd season of:

Meet Cathy, who's lived most everywhere
from Zanzibar to Berkeley Square.
But Patty's only seen the sights
a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights - 

I remember those tongue-in-cheek ads for this show on Nick at Nite in the late 80s/ early 90s (2:46), but if I ever tuned in back in those days, I don't remember doing so. (Ditto for Dobie Gillis, a show that was almost a late addition to this series - and still might be, somewhere down the line). 

For an overview, let's turn to DVDTalk:

"In the upper-middle class borough of Brooklyn Heights, New York, there's double trouble every day at the Lane household. Typical boy-crazy American teenager Patty Lane (Patty Duke) can't sit still for a minute: she's either on the phone, talking to her pals -

"or rustling up something to eat, or slobbing around in her messy bedroom, or hanging out with her boyfriend, goofball Richard." (Not pictured - this is George.)

"However, one additional element is added to this utterly conventional TV nuclear family which turns it on its ear: the arrival of Patty's identical cousin, Cathy (Patty Duke again, of course). Identical because their fathers are identical twins (Schallert portrays Martin's brother Kenneth in one of the episodes this season)."

Patty's parents Natalie (Jean Byron) and Martin (William Schallert).
"Naturally, sometimes-scheming, slightly-crazy Patty sees the advantages of having an identical cousin (fooling dates, for one) but demur, intellectual stable Cathy often steers Patty back on the right track, (serving as) Patty's conscience."
"Filmed in New York to take advantage of the-then weak child labor laws when it came to actors. Duke would routinely work 12-hour days, as opposed to the strict 4-hour days in Hollywood. Nice managers, huh?"

"A couple of times the central hook for the show - identical cousins living together can cause havoc - is utilized, but for the most part, that theme is pushed aside in favor of plots revolving around brash Patty rushing headlong into a situation (usually featuring Richard or some other school-related activity), with calm, sensible Cathy helping to extricate her in the end." 

Such is the case here, although Cathy has no need to bail Patty out at episode's end. There's a timeless appeal to the twins-in-fiction set-up, whether it's lighthearted family-oriented comedy like this (or The Parent Trap) or Friends (Phoebe/ Ursula) or malevolent fantasy like The Dark Half or Dead Ringers. But outside of a friendly interjection or two, she's a non-factor for this episode.

Although we don't see her at the dance or hear anything about her going, she apparently gets dressed up, just the same.

The Plot: Patty is nominated (over her objection) to head the Prom Committee, with the expectation that she land someone huge to sing at the dance. In case the episode's title didn't give it away, that big name in entertainment turns out to be:

Who just happens to be in town!

Sammy's popularity was perhaps at its peak around the time this aired (1965). It's not my intent to give an overview of his career here, but this walk through un-nominated Oscar terrain with Steve Lawrence from the 1979 Academy Awards came to my attention recently. It's the Oscars, so of course it goes on a little too long, but First, I don't really know anything about Steve, but this is an uncanny Frank impersonation. More Sinatra than Sinatra, musical-theater-wise. Arguably. Nobody Rat Pack jihad me. Second, how smooth is Sammy Davis, Jr. in this? Pretty smooth. Third, it's insane some of these songs weren't nominated. "Theme from New York, New York?" I digress, but seriously?

Me, I know him best from The Cannonball Run -  

which like many guys my age, I watched something like 100 times in the early days of the VCR Age.
Anyway, Patty's dilemma is brought to his attention when she advertises it by walking up and down Broadway, hoping some star will look out his or her window and see her. And voila:

Thinking no one saw her, she somehow gets a meeting with Variety's ad-man and asks to take out a full-page ad. The ad-man gently tells her how expensive such a thing is, but he's moved by her story and writes a little blurb about it for the day's issue, which Sammy then sees. He gets her number and begins to call her, which is what the title refers to, as Patty is convinced it's only her boyfriend Richard, cruelly teasing her.

A quick aside: It's said somewhere that such an ad costs $8.35. Even adjusting for inflation, that's just about $64 in 2015 money. Yet later in the episode, when Patty is so despondent over not landing Sammy Davis, Jr. as the prom entertainment, there's this from Richard:

Okay, so either prom tickets are outrageously expensive at Patty's school, or someone (I'll wager it's me) goofed. I recall a Mad Men episode where someone refers to a full-page ad in the New York Times as something like $6800. (Then again, I recall Pete Campbell mentioning he was making $70 a week, and this seemed a respectable figure. Economics, man.) I don't know what the competitive rate was between something like the NYT and Variety, but this stuff always intrigues me. 

Sammy likens his ordeal in trying to get Patty on the phone to Moby Dick, which his manager's never read.
Meanwhile, Patty thinks she's struck out with landing Sammy, so she desperately tries to come up with someone of equal stature.

But it all works out. Sammy finally is able to get in touch with at least Patty's mother and surprises her and the other kids by showing up and knocking everyone's socks off.

Unlike the Davy Jones Brady Bunch episode we looked at, we actually see this happening, and Sammy performs a couple of different tunes.

The End. Well, not quite. Fellow Rat Pack-er (and the guy whose production company produced The Patty Duke Show) Peter Lawford calls Patty up after reading the Variety article and offers up his services. 

Thinking it's just Richard teasing her again - even though she must certainly realize after Sammy Davis plays the prom that she was mistaken and it wasn't Richard teasing her the first time around - she tells him to "be a good boy and go to bed."
Patty's evening attire is apparently from the Horatio Hornblower / Captain Bligh collection.

Let's end with these thoughts from the excellent afore-linked overview from DVDTalk:

"Quite often, that wonderful stereotypical cliché of the American teenager of the late 50s-early 60s - torn between all-American basketball games and getting pinned by a steady boyfriend or girlfriend, and wistfully wishing for "culture" in more sophisticated pursuits, especially if they involve France - is on display here. After all, that characterization of the cultural dichotomy of the average American teen is present in the very format of the show: "Where Cathy adores a minuet, the Ballets Russes, and crepes Suzette, our Patty loves to rock 'n' roll, a hot dog makes her lose control...."

"It's unfortunate that either the writers or Duke herself couldn't enliven this debate through a stronger Cathy character (animated Patty steals the show from almost-dour Cathy in every episode), but this was, after all, a show that Duke states everyone involved with knew was a throwaway."

Maestro of The Love Boat.
Yes, that Sidney Sheldon.


  1. Identical COUSINS?!? Is that a thing that happens? Probably not, but it's kind of a funny idea.

    My knowledge of Sammy Davis Jr., you will be gratified/horrified to know, practically begins and ends with "The Cannonball Run." That's a sort of terrible movie, but it's also sort of wonderful. It's just so friggin' insane that you marvel at it. I'm stupefied that a remake hasn't happened.

    I've never seen a single episode of "The Patty Duke Show," but this sounds like it's probably a really good representation of its era, by which I mean that it's a good representation of representations of its era.

    1. I feel I should own both "The Cannonball Run" and its sequel on DVD. I kind of can't believe I don't, actually. I mean, objectively, I can certainly understand why it'd be better to acquire other movies before getting to those. But subjectively and in the yes-but-I-know-myself way, it's surprising.

      As for a remake, yeah, you figure that one will come around sooner or later. Or someone will make talk of "turning it into a series." With an IDW mini-series tie-in exploring the origins of Captain Chaos.

  2. Bravo on that Trek quotation, by the way. It lent the whole post a Roddenberrian tone.

    1. Excellent. I've been waiting for someone to comment on the quotes! I was beginning to think they amused only myself.

      Which if that WAS the case would be perfectly fine. But I'm happy to see someone else considers their relation to the content that follows.