1950s, Celebrities, Culture, History, Nostalgia, Vintage

Social Closeness

LIFE 7/13/59

Their smiles beam but seem to say, “We’re choking. Take the picture already. This is awkward.”

In what sounds like a silly sitcom plot, identical twins Patrecia and Leisha Gullison won the shared title of Miss Palo Alto in 1959, qualifying them to compete (as a non-conjoined unit) for the Miss California contest. They posed in white bathing suits and did interpretive dance, but got stumped at the question round.

Susan Bronson, however, did not get stumped, stating her answers coherently, and won the title. Or maybe it was because she was blonde and native, and the twins were born in Toronto, and emitted a non-native Californian vibe. In any event, LIFE magazine decided this made for good copy.

Unperturbed, the twins soon signed with Ford Modeling, doing print work as well as television commercials, including one as (obviously) the Doublemint Twins. Liesha became the โ€œSalemโ€ girl, modeled in New York, was active in the theater, and enjoyed a marriage, as well as a later career as an Avon lady. She passed in 2010 at the age of 70. Interesting, but fairly uncomplicated.

Pat, not so much. In 1963, she married a fellow college student, Lawrence Scott. She had been attending talks by fellow Canadian-American Nathaniel Branden, who created an institute to disseminate Ayn Rand’s (yeah, THAT one–of Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged fame) philosophy of objectivism. Pat became smitten with his nutty ideas and decided he might prove a better lover than her husband, with whom she had grown tired over the months. However, Branden was not only married (to wife Barbara) but also sleeping with Ayn Rand himself. Pat decided she also would sleep with Branden, and the affair continued for a year before he told his wife and divorced her.

Pat followed suit and divorced Scott in 1966.

Wanting to rid herself of the last name “Scott,” she made a beeline to (who else?) Ayn Rand to ask her opinion on what she should change it to. Rand suggested her new surname be Wynand, just like the character Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead. Because that’s not crazy. Pat nodded and said okay, and suddenly she became Pat Wynand.

Meanwhile, Rand was still in the dark about the fact that her lover was also the much, much younger and more attractive Pat’s lover. But in 1968, Branden’s now ex-wife Barbara decided it was time to spill the objectivist beans. She informed Rand (who was already old and gross at 63 years old by that point) about his affair with Pat. Rand was livid and accused him of “deliberate deception,” which is arguably what she had committed by sleeping with another woman’s husband in the first place.

Now the adulterers were both free to wed, which they did in California in November of 1969. Several years of marriage passed. Then in 1977, while Pat was outside, feeding their dog, the rays of the sun hit the water on their pool just right, triggering an epileptic seizure in Pat, who consequently drowned in their pool. Branden was sad for a few months and then married the next year.*

Now back to coronavirus.

 

 

*as usual, today’s post facts arrived fresh from Wikipedia

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