Patty Mccormack


Actor
Patty Mccormack

About

Also Known As
Patricia Mccormack, Patricia Ellen Russo
Birth Place
Brooklyn, New York, USA
Born
August 21, 1945

Biography

Most child performers are recalled for their Shirley Templesque sweetness; others for being "awful bad" such as Jane Withers. But no child actor can boast a role as memorably malicious, evil, psychotic and twisted as Patty McCormack, who played Rhoda Penmark, the petite blonde-braided girl who seems so neat, clean and perfect, but who kills a schoolmate because he won a penmanship award ...

Family & Companions

Robert Catania
Husband
Restaurateur. Married 1967; divorced.
Ernest Thompson
Companion
Playwright, screenwriter, former actor. Had eight-year relationship; no longer together.

Notes

"I have a feeling that part of Rhoda was so indelible when I was young that afterward I had a rough time sitting on some of my strengths. Sandra Dee was around then. I was [dramatically] heavier than that. I kind of felt out of it for awhile."--Patricia McCormack in the Los Angeles Times, December 25, 1995.

Biography

Most child performers are recalled for their Shirley Templesque sweetness; others for being "awful bad" such as Jane Withers. But no child actor can boast a role as memorably malicious, evil, psychotic and twisted as Patty McCormack, who played Rhoda Penmark, the petite blonde-braided girl who seems so neat, clean and perfect, but who kills a schoolmate because he won a penmanship award she thought was due her in "The Bad Seed" (1956). Come to think of it, McCormack's Rhoda killed half the cast on Broadway in 1954 and on the big screen in 1956. Since outgrowing her youthful parts, Patricia McCormack (as she is now billed) has had a sporadic adult career, but each year a new generation comes to know her 10-year old self as "The Bad Seed."

Born in Manhattan and raised in Queens by a mother who was once a professional roller skater, McCormack was modeling at age four and by age six was acting, playing the daughter of a singing couple in the feature film "Two Gals and a Guy" (1951). She joined the cast of the successful family comedy/drama "Mama" (CBS, 1953-56), as a newcomer to the Norwegian-immigrant family. Also in 1953, she made her Broadway debut in the short-running "Touchstone." The following year, she first created the role of Rhoda in the stage version of "The Bad Seed." With the success of the 1956 feature, which earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, McCormack landed roles as part of a pioneer family undergoing hardships in Wisconsin in "All Mine to Give" (1957) and a temperamental child star in the "Kathy O'" (1958). She was back on the small screen as a 12-year girl who can't decide whether she can still be a tomboy or if it is time to become a young lady on "Peck's Bad Girl" (CBS). Throughout her teen years, the actress alternated between features (like 1960's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn") and television (e.g., "Young Dr. Malone" NBC, 1962-63).

As with most child stars, roles became more scarce as McCormack matured. In the 60s, now an ingenue, she found roles in low-budget forgettables for American International before turning to the small screen. By 1970, she was again on a soap opera, ABC's "The Best of Everything," during its short life, and later played Kim Reynolds on "As the World Turns" (CBS, 1975-76). McCormack returned to primetime as the friend of social climber Helen Roper (Audra Lindley) on the ABC sitcom "The Ropers" (1979-80) and had a recurring role on "Dallas" (CBS, 1981-82). McCormack made her TV-movie debut in 1983 with "Night Partners" (CBS) and co-starred as Paul LeMat's wife in the NBC miniseries "On Wings of Eagles" (1986). She continued doing episodic guest appearances into the 90s. In 1995, McCormack starred as the murderous, malicious "Mommy," a thriller made directly for home video sale. The character might have been a grown-up Rhoda Penmark, had she not been struck dead by a bolt of lightning.

Life Events

1949

Began working as a model at age four

1951

Made screen debut in "Two Gals and a Guy"

1952

Made TV debut in episode of "Kraft Theatre"

1953

Made Broadway debut in "Touchstone"

1953

Played regular role of Ingeborg in the CBS comedy/drama "Mama"

1954

Starred on Broadway as Rhoda in "The Bad Seed"

1956

Reprised role of Rhoda in the screen version of "The Bad Seed"; earned Supporting Actress Oscar nomination

1959

Played tomboyish daughter on CBS sitcom "Peck's Bad Girl"

1962

Appeared on NBC soap opera "Young Doctor Malone"

1968

Last feature film for seven years, "The Young Runaways"

1970

Was a regular on "The Best of Everything" (ABC)

1975

Appeared as Kim on the CBS daytime drama "As the World Turns"

1975

Made one-shot return to features with "Bug"

1979

Was regular on the ABC sitcom "The Ropers"

1981

Played recurring role of Evelyn Michaelson on the CBS primetime soap "Dallas"

1983

Made TV-movie debut, "Night Partners"

1988

Returned to features in the horror spoof "Saturday the 14th Strikes Back"

1995

Returned to villainy in title role of "Mommy" (released direct to video)

1997

Reprised her role in the direct-to-video sequel "Mommy II: Mommy's Day"

1999

Acted the role of Mrs Daigle in the Staten Island production of "The Bad Seed"; directed by nephew Fred Cerullo

2000

Had a recurring role on "The Sopranos" (HBO) as Adriana's (Drea de Matteo) mother, Liz La Cerva

2003

Appeared in the short-lived FOX drama "Skin"

2008

Portrayed First Lady Pat Nixon in Peter Morgan's film adaption of "Frost/Nixon"

Photo Collections

The Bad Seed - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from The Bad Seed (1956), directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Family

Frank Russo
Father
Fire fighter.
Elizabeth Russo
Mother
Professional roller skater.
Robert Catania Jr
Son
Commercial real estate broker.
Danielle Catania
Daughter
Beauty salon operator.

Companions

Robert Catania
Husband
Restaurateur. Married 1967; divorced.
Ernest Thompson
Companion
Playwright, screenwriter, former actor. Had eight-year relationship; no longer together.

Bibliography

Notes

"I have a feeling that part of Rhoda was so indelible when I was young that afterward I had a rough time sitting on some of my strengths. Sandra Dee was around then. I was [dramatically] heavier than that. I kind of felt out of it for awhile."--Patricia McCormack in the Los Angeles Times, December 25, 1995.