‘F Troop’ star dies: Melody Patterson

Published: August 24, 2015

‘F Troop’ star dies: Melody Patterson, Melody Patterson, best known for her role as Wrangler Jane on the sixties ABC comedy F Troop, died on Aug. 22, 2015, at age 66.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we can let you know our beloved Wrangler Jane, Melody Patterson passed away. Our hearts are sad today. RIP Sweet Melody. We love you,” Larry Storch, 92, who played Corporal Randolph Agarn on the series, posted to his Facebook page.

“Melody could hang with ‘the boys,'” Storch later added.

“She always told folks that she felt looked after by Larry and the cast. The feeling was very mutual. The guys were always very protective of her. She sure knew how to use those guns!”

Details of Patterson’s death were not immediately available.

Melody Patterson was born on April 16, 1949 in Inglewood, California. She began performing at the age of four. Her first appearance was in a production of Mrs. McThing at the Downey Community Theatre in Downey, California.

Patterson studied at the Hollywood Professional School and New York City’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Patterson had an uncredited role as a dancer in the movie adaptation of the play Bye Bye Birdie (1965). Patterson auditioned for the part of Wrangler Jane when she was 15, but told producers she was 18. Patterson filmed the pilot for F Troop during Christmas vacation. By the time producers realized she was underage, fans of the show were as taken with her as she was by Captain Wilton Parmenter, played by Ken Berry.

“Quick Melody story Larry said we could post,” a spokesperson posted on Storch’s Facebook page. “As many know Melody was a minor when cast on F Troop. Until her casting it was pretty much a boys club. Her first day on set the ‘suits’ as Larry recalls them (the higher ups at Warner Bros) came down and said “alright boys. We have a new girl with us, she’s only a child, so no more four letter words!” Larry was shocked she was so young but also very impressed at how she always handled herself around ‘the boys’.”

“She was extremely independent. She owned her own store, she ran the mail and she could outride and outshoot anybody else in town,” Patterson is quoted as saying in Tom Lisanti’s book Drive-in Dream Girls: A Galaxy of B-Movie Starlets of the Sixties. “She was a very self-reliant teenager, which I always saw her as.”

Patterson played Ella Mae on the “Hillbilly Honeymoon” episode of The Monkees TV series in 1967.

She also appeared on the TV series Adam-12 and Green Acres. Patterson appeared in the films The Harrad Experiment and Blood and Lace. She starred in the biker gang film The Cycle Savages with Bruce Dern in 1969. She also did a show on Armed Forces Radio for troops in Vietnam.

Melody wrote the column “Wrapping with Wrangler” for “Wildest Westerns Magazine.”

Patterson married Hawaii Five-O star James MacArthur, the adopted son of famed actress Helen Hayes, in 1970. The pair acted together in the 1968 film The Angry Breed. Patterson was the guest star on three episodes of Hawaii Five-O. Patterson and MacArthur divorced in 1975. She was also married to Robert Seaton.

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