Actress Patty Duke has been reprising her role as look-alike cousins Cathy and Patty Lane from the 1960s sitcom The Patty Duke Show in a series of commercials encouraging baby boomers to sign up online for Social Security. Later this year, all the surviving members of the cast will reunite for a new public service announcement. They will promote an online application that will allow seniors who are still working to sign up for Medicare before claiming their Social Security benefits. U.S. News recently asked Duke, 63, about her retirement plans. Excerpts:
What made you decide to volunteer for the Social Security ads?
They told me they would like to revive a version of The Patty Duke Show, and that tickled my fancy. I remember the anxiety my mother would have waiting to get her Social Security check and then her relief upon getting it. And I said, "Let me do this in remembrance of Mom."
Have you signed up for Social Security yet?
I'm two years away. There is a penalty if you sign up right away. You receive a fuller amount if you wait until 65. That impression has kept me from filing. Maybe by then, I will be able to do it online. When I am 65, we should be doing one where I register or have my husband register me.
What was it like to reunite with the whole cast of The Patty Duke Show?
We've already shot it. We are missing a member. The woman who played Mama passed on last year, and so there was a bittersweet quality for us getting together. But we have William Schallert, who played Papa, and Paul O'Keefe, Patty's brother, and Eddie Applegate, her boyfriend. Apparently, he and Patty have now been married for eons.
How does it feel to be playing Cathy and Patty Lane again, 40 years later?
I worried a little about how I was going to remember what their mannerisms were again. But as soon as we did the makeup and clothes, I dropped right into it. I certainly could not have conceived that the show would be out on DVDs.
Are you thinking about retiring someday?
I never would have thought that I would formally retire. But as my 60s progress, I'm thinking it's rather an attractive idea. I don't know if I could pull it off, though. We actors get the itch, and sometimes we scratch it and sometimes we don't.
Do you have any retirement advice for other baby boomers?
No. I would like their advice.
Which cousin do you like to play better?
I like Cathy better. Cathy did less embarrassing things. As an early teenager, I certainly didn't want to be doing embarrassing things. I enjoyed Patty, but I always liked Cathy better because she was more reserved and seemingly more thoughtful about things.