This article appeared in the September 1973 issue of Daytime TV.
It is accompanied by photos of Lee Patterson (Joe Riley) & Marilyn Chris (Wanda Webb)
This article wouldn't be here for your viewing without John. THANKS John!!!
“SO MANY PEOPLE ARE BUSY PLANNING TOMORROW, THEY DON’T ENJOY TODAY”
“Don’t Sit There and Stare At Your Pennies … Have Fun With Them!”
Lee Patterson has a career in acting, of course: more than 25 movies; star of a nighttime series, Surfside 6; guest star of lots of TV shows, internationally known, and now back on One Life to Live as Joe Riley.
“But,” he protests. “My Real career is living!”
He recalls something Alex Guinness once said, “Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.”
“I like this attitude; I take my work and my hobbies seriously, but I can laugh at myself,” explains Lee, who was born Beverly Francis Atherly-Patterson in Vancouver, Canada, on a March 31.
Chatting backstage at the big ABC studios in midtown New York where both One Life to Live and All My Children are taped, Lee explained, “My goal is living. The idea is not to make things happen but to allow things to happen. This can be very pleasant, and it’s the opposite of planning in great detail for the future.”
“The people who plan and plan are likely to be disappointed. So many are so busy planning tomorrow that they don’t enjoy today!”
“I believe in today. I like the unexpected, the sudden, the surprises.”
“Some people put too much importance on money. Money means freedom in our society, but you should not sit and stare at your money. Rather, have fun with your money! It’s what the money means that’s important, not the dollar itself.”
“It’s not what one does that’s important, but what one is.”
“You don’t seek happiness … It’s there; You only have to recognize it.”
Lee admits he might have inherited some of his fun-loving adventurous attitudes. “My father, John, was an actor in London before becoming a banker in Canada. He and my mother and my three brothers were always outgoing, fun-loving. My father died six years ago, Mother lives in Toronto. I’m the second of four sons. Jack, the oldest, and Paul are in Toronto, too, and Neil is in San Francisco, in the publishing business.”
Lee can remember when his mother, at the dinning table, made this comment: “A pessimist says, ‘Pass the milk.’ An optimistic says, ‘Pass the cream,’ and the realist says, ‘Pass the jug.’ Well I think I’m the realist ho isn’t sure whether there’s milk or cream in the jug, and just wants the jug and will accept whatever is in it.”
Lee, the realist, is also the carefree bachelor (never married) and he travels constantly. “It’s not restlessness,” he protests. “It’s curiosity and wanting to meet friends in far-off places.”
After h finished a couple of seasons in OLTL, he left and kept busy for a year and a half by making a movie in Spain (Chat’s Land, with Jack Palance, James Whitmore, Richard Basehart), some TV in England and Canada, a guest shot on The Immortal, and lots of shark fishing and hunting for antiques.
When he gave up his New York apartment in 1970, he shipped a load of antiques and fine furniture to his big Hollywood house (which he rents out). He also maintains a London flat, which he also rents out. And he’s accumulated another apartment full of art and antiques in New York. He was once a sculptor and painter, and enjoys buying things for his homes. “I have an old spinning wheel, and an 1827 sextant I’ll use some day in navigating a ship I plan to buy soon. And I collect military silks, all made in China, of British battalions. They’re like flags, and hard to get. But these things I keep locked up in the bank vault.”
Obviously, Lee has accumulated a lot of possessions; but he has also made sure the possessions don’t own him. And he seems to do this by traveling a lot, visiting people and places, and living fully for the day.
“Of course I have friends who think I’m too impulsive, too frivolous and impractical, and who warn me save my money. But I do save some money, and I do have my fun, too!”
He explains, “I’m at the stage of life where I want to enjoy the work I do; money is not the basic objective.”
“I move a lot,” he concedes, “I travel. I have a profound interest in the whole world. I’m interested in everything. For instance, I’ve been coming to McGlade’s café (near ABC studios) for years, and I never sit in the same place. I’m not that settled. I like change, and I like to meet new people and greet old friends.”
He has some downbeat friends, and he tries to cheer them up. But he enjoys most meeting people “who have a zest for life… the Zorba people! I like the Zorba-type people who celebrate life rather than wait for death!” He was very much moved watching the Peter Finch movie on TV about the birth of Israel. He liked the idea of the Israelites deciding to leave the Wailing Wall and put up a fight.
In his own life, he stands up to adversity. “I try to remember that what seems a disaster today usually turns out not to be so bad after all. We survive! I try not to be crushed by trouble or sadness. I take the bull by the horn and say. ‘I’ll make it!’ And I do!”
This sturdy, jaunty attitude has helped him survive time and time again. Once he was in the legendary Casbah, and a native tried to stick him up. Lee kept his cool. “What a beautiful knife you have! … Can I buy it?” he asked, and the native muttered, “20$.” Lee said, “I’ll take the knife,” and bought it before the native could use it on him.
He is genuinely glad to get back on One Life to Live and again work with producer Doris Quinlan. Their friendship goes back to the serial The Nurses, which Doris handled and Lee worked on.
And he’s proud to be working on a “soap “Doing a serial is a tough business and requires high competence. It’s not for inexperienced actors. You’ve got little time for preparation and you’ve got to get it right the first time!”
Now that he’s settled in New York, he’s fascinated by the idea of buying a boat, probably a sail boat with a diesel auxiliary so that he can take long trips, perhaps across the Atlantic ocean. “It’s been done before,” he points, “but if I do it, it won’t be to prove anything but just for the fun of it. I just love to sail, and I’m taking navigation courses right now so that I’ll be competent sailor.”
He’ll probably ail the Atlantic alone, too.
“This weekend,” he said, “I might find the right boat and take it out sailing. Or I might drive up to New England and see some faces and place …”
His brown eyes turn mischievous when he adds, “I like to follow an impulse, and I do some ludicrous things sometimes … but I also forgive myself. And then curiosity makes me do new daft things …”