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Even I am too young to remember Lee Patterson's early career. As a
struggling young actor in the early 1950's he made a bunch of forgettable films. But as many of his contemporaries, he phased into television very well in the early 1960's. His first series was 'Surfside 6' in 1960 which was a take-off on the popular 'hip private eye' series '77 Sunset Strip which first aired in 1958. The difference being Sunset Strip took place in Los Angeles.

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Surfside 6 took place in Miami, where the 'boy private eyes' played by Troy Donahue, Van Williams and the gorgeous Mr. Patterson lived on a houseboat, while managing to go after the bad boys - put them in jail, and had time later to meet up at the Fountainbleau Hotel for rest and fun. Does that sound groovy, or what? Decades before Crockett and Tubbs! The very lovely ladies in the cast included Diane McBain, Tuesday Weld and Connie Stevens. Names from another time, sadly.

Lee did a lot of television after 'Surfside' was cancelled in 1962. He went on to do guest appearances on Bonanza, Perry Mason, Combat!, and even did a small stint of The Nurses. But it wasn't until 1968 that Lee Patterson found a home...Llanview.

As the hard nosed, street-smart reporter for Llanview's newspaper, the Banner, Joe Riley, Lee Patterson became one of the most popular male stars in soaps. And the only man to win Victoria Lord's whole heart and soul. To this day Joe Riley is known as Viki's 'greatest love.' Joe was a tough guy but lost his heart to Viki whose father was publisher of the Banner. Viki was a rich little princess who had lived what looked to be, a very privileged life. But Viki and Joe fell madly in love, despite protestations from Viki's father, Victor Lord, that Joe was 'from the wrong side of the tracks.' We female viewers just love it when opposites attract. This is the stuff good soap operas are made of!

The romance was moving along when Viki discovered notes written to her from someone she did not know --warning her not to marry Joe. Was it her father behind these threats? What was going on? Viki was to find out that she was suffering from multiple personality disorder -- and I must say that was something unheard of in 1968. The famous book "Sybil" was published in 1973. Someone on the writing staff had come up with quite an unusual idea. As we know many MPD story lines have since been presented on soaps and in films, but this was the first time, to my knowledge, it had been tackled in the entertainment industry.

Viki's alter ego, Nikki, was a hard drinking, bar fly, who just happened to hook up with Joe Riley's best friend, Vinnie Wolek - a bad boy for the most part but soft around the edges. Joe and Viki, desperately in love, decided to get married only to have Nikki come out at the wedding and demand to be married to Vinnie. What scandal for nearly 40 years ago!

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January 1978 One Life to Live's Joe Riley(Lee Patterson), Viki (Erika Slezak) and Erika's little dog, too!

As a young teenager at the time I can't express how engrossing this story line was. I would run home every day from school to watch OLTL with my mom. We were both glued to the story. We wanted Joe to win his lady, and he did. Joe Riley was so popular that when he was killed off, he was brought back due to fan outrage -- no Internet back then, no oversized fanbases with clout- just pure love for a soap character. Later Lee was brought back again as his own twin brother.

Lee Patterson, Joe Riley -- my mom and I would fight over who loved him the most. It was our mother/daughter thing we did together every day. "Time to watch Joe, hubba-hubba!" 'He's mine!' "I'll marry a guy like Joe someday!" 'I wish your father could be more like Joe!" LOL...

News of Lee's passing came to light only after Erika Slezak (God Love her) gave an interview in SOW a couple weeks ago. He was described as a handsome macho leading man, who lived his life as a 'loner.' He apparently passed away months ago so none of his fans knew. I found one site where fans could write in their memories of him, with only two posts:

"rest in peace mr patterson you were and will always be missed. your talent will live on forever."

"I will always remember Vicky's greatest love. I always felt a sadness whenever she'd talk about him, I always hoped they'd re-cast and bring the character back. So sad!"

This is my tribute to one hell of a handsome, 'macho' man, Rest in Peace, Lee Patterson!

Until next month,
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My View of Llanview #2 · Y&R & B&B: News, Spoilers & Discussion