Melody Patterson, probably best known for playing Wrangler Jane on the Sixties Western spoof F Troop, died on August 20 2015 at the age of 66. She had broken her back several years ago and had been in poor health ever since.
Melody Patterson was born on April 16 1949 in Inglewood, California. She made her first appearance on stage when she was only four years old, in the play Mrs. McThing at the Downey Community Theatre in Downey, California. In her ninth grade in school she attended the Hollywood Professional School, but left it for Downey High School. She was only 15 years old when she auditioned for F Troop, having told the producers she was 18. The pilot for F Troop was filmed during her Christmas vacation from school. By the time the producers of F Troop realised Miss Patterson was underage it was too late. The show was already on the air and had a following. Before F Troop she had appeared in an uncredited, bit part in the film Bye Bye Birdie (1963) and an episode of Wendy and Me.
After F Troop was cancelled in 1967, in the Sixties Miss Patterson guest starred on the TV shows The Monkees, Adam-12, Green Acres, and Hawaii Five-O. She appeared in the films The Angry Breed (1968) and The Cycle Savages (1969). In the Seventies she appeared in the films Blood and Lace (1971) and The Harrad Experiment (1973). She guest starred on Hawaii Five-O. During the Seventies she took up modelling and made commercials. In Hawaii she appeared in the plays Butterflies Are Free, The Front Page, and Miss Julie.
During the Sixties Melody Patterson also did a radio show on Armed Forces Radio for the troops serving in Vietnam. She later wrote a column "Wrapping with Wrangler" for Wildest Westerns Magazine.
Melody Patterson was wonderful as Wrangler Jane on F Troop. Wrangler Jane could out-shoot, out-ride, and out-rope any of the men in F Troop. What is more, she ran her own store. In an era when many women portrayed on television were still housewives, Wrangler Jane was an extremely independent young woman. while she always wanted to marry Captain Parmenter, she really didn't need any man to support her, help her, or save her. Melody Patterson was wholly convincing in the role. If little boys watching F Troop in its original run and reruns developed crushes on Wrangler Jane, it wasn't simply because she was pretty. It was because Wrangler Jane was a woman who more than a match for any man.