Is it possible for Kindertrauma to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without bringing up either LEPRECHAUN or DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE? I thought not, but then your brilliant Aunt John came up with the brainstorm of ST. PATTY DUKE DAY! You read that right; today we celebrate the work of Hollywood legend PATTY DUKE.
This once child star went on to win an Oscar and multiple Emmys, she recorded gold records, wrote best selling books, she became the president of the Screens Actor’s Guild and she was an early activist for mental health issues particularly bipolar disorder. If that’s not enough, she can also lay claim to doing the horizontal hokey pokey with Gomez Addams (JOHN ASTIN).
Her progeny have gone on to star in motion pictures both small (THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY) and large (THE GARBAGE PAIL KIDS MOVIE.) Luckily for traumatots everywhere, over the decades DUKE has also done her fair share of work (mostly for television) in our favorite genre. Let’s take a look at some of the great horrors glittering in St. PATTY’s pot of gold!
YOU’LL LIKE MY MOTHER (1972)
This one sure plays like a seventies television movie but truth is, it actually did get a limited theatrical run. Based on a novel by NOAMI A. HINTZ, this colder than a shamrock shake thriller finds a preggo DUKE crashing into the ultimate ice queen mother-in-law (ROSEMARY MURPHY) with nail chomping suspense as a result. Modern viewers may find the pace slower than a glacier thaw but if you stick around till the end you will witness RICHARD “John Boy Walton” THOMAS giving ANTHONY PERKINS a run for his money in the twisted momma’s boy department. Perfect for a snowy night couch ride if you are able to track down the out-of-print VHS tape.
LOOK WHAT’S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY’S BABY (1976)
Forget the baby, look what’s happened to Rosemary; she’s turned into PATTY DUKE! Eight years after the legendary film ROSEMARY’S BABY left theaters, a television sequel surfaced just in time to cash in on recent theatrical hit THE OMEN. Yes, it’s a major step down from its predecessor but if it makes you feel any better, ROSEMARY author IRA LEVIN’s own stab at continuing the tale SON OF ROSEMARY, was pretty dang awful too. This boob tube mish-mash would try the patience of any saint but you certainly can’t blame whoever was in charge of casting! Look for future PONTYOOL star STEPHEN McHATTIE as the title kid all grown up and ready to glam rock, check out RAY MILLAND filling in for SIDNEY BLACKMER as RUTH GORDON’s creepy Castevet hubby, and hey, you even get a well deserved dose of TINA LOUISE.
I caught this one on T.V. when I was growing up and although I don’t think I stayed awake for the whole crazy affair I remember being truly scared by the scene where Rosemary takes a ride to nowhere, trapped inside a satanic bus (is there any other kind?)
CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW (1977)
Director DAN CURTIS (TRILOGY OF TERROR, BURNT OFFERINGS) is nothing less than a kindertrauma legend, nearly everything he touches turns to gold. CURSE OF THE BLACK WIDOW will never be considered his shiniest coin, but who are we to say no to a Reagley-Beagley look at seventies pick up bars, especially when said bars are being preyed upon by a man-eater who transforms into a giant spider! Could PATTY who plays DONNA MILLS uptight, spinster-y twin sister be in the center of this sticky web? Let’s just say DUKE has some great gams…eight to be exact.
THE BABYSITTER (1980)
Hold on to your man PATTY DUKE even if he is WILLIAM SHATNER! STEPHANIE ZIMBALIST plays a 19-year-old home wrecking babysitter (you’d be riled too if you had to sit for QUINN CUMMINGS!) in this ahead of its time predatory usurper tale. Can PATTY keep her perfect nest from being picked apart by a younger chickie? Will drinking heavily and throwing furniture help? DUKE releases her cuckoo Kraken in this darker than you think, double cheese classic. Extra points rewarded for providing a resting spot for JOHN HOUSEMAN between THE FOG and GHOST STORY.
AMITYVILLE 4: THE EVIL ESCAPES (1989)
It says a lot about the overall quality of THE AMITYVILLE HORROR franchise that this installment, which involves a haunted lamp, is far from the worst in the so-called series. Oh, it’s pretty terrible, but unlike some of the others, it makes up for its lack of common sense with an irresistible onslaught of high camp hilarity. It may not be good but damn if it isn’t entertaining.
DUKE is recent widower Nancy Evans who, strapped for cash, uproots her three intolerable children and moves in with her mother (JAYNE WYATT). Unbeknownst to all is the fact that Grammy just accepted a gift straight from an Amityville garage sale, complete with an evil entity stowaway poised to cause havoc! This devil faced, coat rack looking lamp is so devious that it somehow recruits all of the homes other appliances in its sinister crusade against the family. Frustratingly though, it’s only the hired help and a luckless parakeet who die horrible deaths.
Maybe that’s how it should be, DUKE has taken on and conquered more in her real life than anything thrown at her in AMITYVILLE 4. As soon as she gets a grasp of what’s going on, there can only be one conclusion and that’s lights out lamp! It’s a testament to PATTY‘s professionalism that even when knee deep in hokum she plows forward delivering the same amount of gusto she would any role. Inanimate objects beware.
This is merely a handful of DUKE’s output, she appeared in the bee-movie disaster THE SWARM (more on that one another day), the REAR WINDOW T.V. wannabe 1974’s NIGHTMARE and she guest starred on spooky series like THE SIXTH SENSE, GHOST STORY and NIGHT GALLERY.
PATTY’s episode of NIGHT GALLERY “Diary” is one of my favorites as she portrays a bitchy gossip columnist who gets a delicious comeuppance. Give yourself a St. PATTY’s Day treat by watching it below on HULU. Make sure you stick around after DUKE’s segment to see CESAR ROMERO as Dracula, HELL NIGHT’s VINCE VAN PATTEN taking on JOHN CARRADINE in the RICHARD MATHESON penned “Big Surprise” and lastly, CARL REINER in a classic salute to H.P. LOVECRAFT where he literally turns green!
HAPPY ST. PATTY DUKE DAY TO ALL!