Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Whatever happened to Paul O'Keefe (Ross from Patty Duke Show)?

Here's a blast from the past.  Remember Paul O'Keefe from The Patty Duke Show.  He played Russ Lane, the younger brother of Patty Lane, Patty Duke's character on The Patty Duke Show.  With the death of Eddie Applegate, who played Patty's boyfriend, Richard Harrison, on October 17, 2016,  Paul is the only surviving member of the main cast of the show.    

Paul was born on April 27, 1951 in Everett, Massachusetts, near Boston.  He was a child performer in his home state.  He studied music at the New England Conservatory and performed in shows such as Annie Get Your Gun at the Carousel Theater in Framingham.  His sister was also involved in theatre work.  At the age of seven, Paul played Winthrop in the 1959 Broadway production of the musical The Music Man.  In 1959, he sang in an episode of The Ed Sullivan Show.

Paul also appeared in the daytime soap opera Ass the World Turns as Danny Stewart (aka Jimmy Lowell) from 1962 to 1963 and as Tommy Hughes from 1967 to 1968).  He had minor roles in three episodes of the TV comedy Car 54, Where Are You? in 1962 and 1963. - "Toody's Paradise" (Season 1, Episode 19, Air Date:: January 28, 1962) , "Quiet! We're Thinking" (Season 1, Episode 29, Air Date: April 8, 1962), "See You at the Bar Mitzvah" (Season 3, Episode 24, Air Date: March 3, 1963).  He also appeared in a 1963 episode of the crime drama Naked City entitled  "Robin Hood and Clarence Darrow, They Went Out with Bow and Arrow" (Season 4, Episode 17, Air Date: January 9, 1963).

In 1963, Paul was playing the role of "Oliver" on Broadway when he was cast as Patty's bespectacled kid brother on The Patty Duke ShowThe Patty Duke Show was created by Sidney Sheldon and William Asher.  The series was designed as a vehicle for the teenage Patty who had won an Academy Award in 1963 for her performance as Helen Keller in 1962 film The Miracle Worker..

The Patty Duke Show ran on the ABC Network from 1963 to 1966,  It chronicled the adventures of the Lane family of Brooklyn Heights, New York.  Patty Duke portrayed rambunctious teenager Patty Lane.  She also portrayed Patty's sophisticated look-a-like cousin, Cathy Lane.  

Martin Lane, the father of  Patty and Ross is the managing editor of the New York Chronicle.  Cathy's widowed father, Kenneth Lane, is Martin's identical twin brother.  He is the Chronicle's foreign correspondent, and is often away.  Hence, the brainy, well-travelled Cathy stays with her relatives in Brooklyn Heights, where she attends high school with her all-American cousin, Patty.  Cathy spoke with a Scottish accent and a split screen effect was used so that the cousins could appear on screen together, despite both being portrayed by Patty Duke.

Patty and Cathy in the same scene

The Patty Duke Show was cancelled in 1966 after three season.  Paul O'Keefe went on to guest stars in a 1967 episode of My Three Sons.  He portrayed Norman in an episode entitled "The Computer Picnic" (Season 8, Episode 12, Air Date: November 25, 1967).

In the 1972 horror film Child's Play, Paul portrayed a Catholic school student whose character is beaten up and loses an eye.

Paul's last television acting performance was in the 1999 TV movie The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin' in Brooklyn Heights, a reunion of the show with original cast members.  

Paul O'Keefe first saw Rent on stage about 25 years ago.  He was greatly impressed by Jonathan Larson's production.  About a year into the show's Broadway run,  Paul was invited to become a sub-musician by his friend, Tim Weil, the musical supervisor of Rent.  He jumped at the opportunity, but was anxious about being required to play multiple instruments.  "It was kind of daunting," he told Metro.US.  The first few performances I managed to do okay and not screw anything up, but it was a real stretch for me artistically.  I was really pleased when things settled down and I was accepted and approved by everybody."

Paul O'Keefe never really established an acting career as an adult.  Since he left acting, he has kept his personal life very private.  I could find very little online about his recent activities or his current whereabouts.  Since Paul is the only surviving member of the Patty Duke Show's cast, fans of the show would appreciate an update on him.  Paul, if you are reading this, I would appreciate it very much if you would email me a few lines about yourself and what you have been up to lately.  My email address is jmadden16@yahoo.ca

Paul O'Keefe


* Paul O'Keefe is the cousin of actor Ellen Pompeo who is also a native of Everett, Massachusetts.  Ellen is well known for her role as Dr. Meredith Grey on the popular medical drama Grey's Anatomy

* Three members of the cast of the Patty Duke Show died in 2016.  Jean Byron, who played Natalie Lane, the mother of Patty and Ross Lane, died on February 3, 2006.  William Schallert, who played their father, Martin Lane, as well as Martin's twin brother, Kenneth, passed away on May 8, 2016.  On March 29, 2016, Patty Deke died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine.  She was 69 a t the time of her passing.

Jean Byron

William Schallert

* In 2019, Paul O'Keefe served as the assistant musical director of Rent for the show's 20th anniversary tour. 

SOURCES: Metro.US, "Rent is all about family for Everett's Paal O'Keefe," by Matt Juul, October 31, 2019; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne

No comments:

Post a Comment