Friday, December 17, 2010

December 17: Double Dose of Van Patten

On this day in 1976, two live-action Disney films were released - The Shaggy D.A. and Freaky Friday.

The Shaggy D.A. (a sequel to the 1959 The Shaggy Dog) was generally released to theaters, while Freaky Friday (Disney's very first version of Mary Rodgers' story) premiered in a few select cities. (It was generally released the following January.)

Odd enough that two live-action Disney comedies were released on the same day ... but both films featured actor Dick Van Patten!

Directed by Robert Stevenson (his final film for Disney after 20 years) The Shaggy D.A. starred Dean Jones as Wilby Daniels, an attorney who has a habit of turning into a dog. Dick Van Patten played Raymond, an agent of Wilby's rival.

In Freaky Friday, a tale of a mother and daughter whose personalities are switched, Van Patten portrayed Harold Jennings, a realty developer.

A year later Van Patten would be easily recognized for his role of Tom Bradford, the father on the hit television series Eight Is Enough (which ran through 1981). Van Patten was no stranger to Disney comedies, as prior to these two films he had also appeared in Gus, The Strongest Man in the World, and Superdad.

Born in New York in 1928, Van Patten started his career in showbiz as a child actor on Broadway before moving on to to films and television. He is also the author of several bestselling books including "Eighty Is Not Enough."

Click HERE for more December 17 Disney history.

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