Twilight Zone: The Patricia Modell You Never Knew

By Michael Yockel (Baltimore Fishbowl, 11/4/2011)

Not surprisingly, local /tributes for exquisitely coiffed philanthropist and socialite Patricia Modell, who died October 12 at age 80, emphasized her significant charitable giving to a host of Baltimore educational, health, and cultural organizations during the 16 years that she lived here with her husband, Art Modell, whose Cleveland Browns morphed into the Baltimore Ravens after moving here in 1995.

Those same accounts also traipsed through her pre-Mrs. Modell life as modestly successful 1950s/1960s TV actress Patricia Breslin: a recurring role on pioneering nighttime soap “Peyton Place”; another on stalwart daytime soap “General Hospital”; and guest-star parts on a peck of other shows, everything from “Perry Mason” to “Maverick” to “Dr. Kildare” to “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” to “Thriller,” among many others. Not forgetting her continuing role on the curious 1950s sitcom “The People’s Choice,” in which she played the wife of the show’s star, Jackie Cooper, a city councilman whose basset hound, Cleo, got all the best lines (a voiceover, naturally).

Despite this plethora of TV appearances, Breslin’s acting career, in truth, barely registered on Hollywood’s Richter scale. And yet before she chucked showbiz in 1969 after marrying Modell, she featured prominently in a pair of productions cherished by the pop-culture illuminati: a 1960 “Twilight Zone” episode opposite a buff William Shatner, and director William Castle’s fascinatingly lurid 1961 suspense/exploitation Homicidal.

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