Fans of the mid-1960's classic sitcom "F Troop" are saddened today with the news that Melody Patterson died yesterday at the way-too-young age of 66.
"F Troop" centered around the US Cavalry misfits at Fort Courage, located Somewhere in the Indian Territories of post-Civil War America. The main characters were the conniving Sgt. O'Rourke, played by Forrest Tucker and his sidekick Cpl. Agarn (for my money, one of the half dozen or so best sitcom characters ever) played by Larry Storch, who operated their money making schemes under the nose of the inept Capt. Parmenter. The town general store was run by the lovely Jane Angelica Thrift, better known an Wrangler Jane, who was played by Miss Patterson. Wrangler's romantic pursuit of the unaware Wilton Parmenter was one of the ongoing bits of the show, which lasted for two seasons.
One of the great show biz stories is that Miss Patterson lied about her age when auditioning for the part of Wrangler Jane, claiming that she was nineteen years old when in fact she was only sixteen years old when she secured the role. By the time the producers found out her actual age, it was too late to make any casting change because Patterson and the Wrangler character had clicked with the television audience.
"F Troop" was cancelled after a two year run, and Patterson went on to marry actor James MacArthur of "Hawaii Five-0" fame. She went on to a career of bit parts in movies, TV shows (including a couple of Hawaii Five-0 episodes with her husband), stage work, and commercials, but, as often happens with the stars of "classic television" shows, she spent much of her later years making appearances at conventions with her "F Troop" co-stars.
If you are fortunate enough to own the DVD sets of the complete seasons of "F Troop", as I am, this might be a good occasion to pull them out, visit the Fort Courage Saloon, and toast one of O'Rourke Enterprises watered down beers to the memory of Wrangler Jane.
RIP Melody Patterson.