Remembering Patti Deutsch — Properly

Comic actress Patti Deutsch (1943-2017) would have been 75 today; she passed away just last year.

I find it exceedingly odd that most of the obituaries and bios about Deutsch make their lede her presence as a panelist on celebrity game shows. I mean, that’s fine but there was a reason she was booked on all those game shows in the first place, after all. She was already a recognized face on television, from commercials, from stand-up spots, and above all her appearances with the seminal sketch comedy team Ace Trucking Company. With ATC she was in the movie Petulia (1968), one of the series regulars on This is Tom Jones (1969-1971) and in the movie Dynamite Chicken (1971) with Richard Pryor. She’d been on the variety and talk shows of Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavett, Merv Griffin, Mike Douglas, Johnny Carson, John Byner, and Joey Bishop, and was a regular on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (1972-73). As an actress she was on The Girl With Something Extra (1973) with Sally Field and in the TV movies Big Daddy (1973), Slither (1974), and Shakespeare Loves Rembrandt (1974).

Then, from 1974 or so through 1980, she was a frequent panelist on shows like Match Game and Tattle Tales, where her sparkly and goofy personality and seasoned improv skills allowed her to shine.

But that wasn’t all. 1978-79, she was a regular on Grandpa Goes to Washington with Jack Albertson. Starting in the ’80s, while she continued to appear on camera from time to time, Deutsch began to focus on voice-over work, including regular stints on The Smurfs (1984-86), Capitol Critters (1992-95), and many others including the Disney movie Tarzan (1999). Her last credit was in an episode of Don’t Trust the B–ch in Apartment 23 in 2013.