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 “Salem” 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

1960s, Celebrities, Culture, Funny, Hair, History, Humor, Nostalgia, Photography, Pics, Style, Vintage

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1964 Sul Ross State College
1964 Sul Ross State College

Whatever outrages you the most in this shot determines your character.

  • For me, it’s clearly Ottoman Head in the middle bottom row. I could plant my rump on that hair and sit a spell.
  • For others, it may be the fact that these members of the Sachem Literary Society (and there were two pages of them) were all dressed in minks. Maybe you don’t like the top of the food chain to wear coats made of the animals at the bottom. I will say I wouldn’t mind wrapping myself in one right now during this frosty season, especially since those minks died around 1964. I’m just saying Nature provides for a bi-polar vortex, that’s all.
  • If you were my cousin, your jaw would be dropping in a WTH response at poor Mary and Martha Russell being shoved into one frame to share it. And it’s not as though there wasn’t space on the page. There is an entire 3″x7″ blank spot right next to this–plenty of room for any sets of twins to have their own unshared portrait and own unique identity. What was the thinking on the part of the editorial staff here? Well, they look the same, so why bother taking two pictures? Who needs to see that face twice?

Perhaps I’m being presumptive; perhaps it was their own idea. Maybe they feel a connection as twins and wanted a “group” shot. Or perhaps they are really Siamese conjoined twins, unable to separate, much less turn around and face each other. Like the two women below. But even if that were the case, I don’t understand why they couldn’t take a picture of each woman and crop the other out. They shouldn’t have to share a square. Or a rectangle, as it were.

I should end the post right here. But dangit, I can’t. Conjoined twins are fascinating. So I’m going to go off on a tangent. Close this out if you are in a hurry.


Don’t you have questions about their hygiene, marriage, clothing, sleeping conditions–things all the unconjoined of us take for granted? I do. Imagine sitting right where you are, typing on your laptop with a person attached to you. And he has to use the restroom. Or he’s hungry. Or he has a fever, which you may well soon get.

Quick history lesson on the Carolina Twins above: Millie McCoy and Christine McCoy (July 11, 1851 – October 8, 1912) were born to slaves, and sold by their owner, Jabez McKay, at TEN MONTHS of age to a South Carolina man, who agreed to pay McKay a percentage of the earnings he made, exhibiting them at state fairs. The “two-headed nightingale” was sold twice more until 1863, when it/they earned their freedom. But don’t be sad; a wealthy merchant named Joseph Smith reunited the girls with their mother, Monemia. Mr. Smith and his wife then provided the twins with an education and taught them to speak five languages, dance, play music, and sing (thanks,wikipedia).

Eventually, they bought the plantation where their parents had originally worked as slaves. They still exhibited themselves, but on their own terms.


What still bothers me on this license is the fact that they are referred to as a “two-headed woman” named Millie Christine, instead of two separate people.  They are actually two women, not one woman. Two brains, two hearts, two souls with separate thoughts and emotions. Now you see where Full House got the idea to bill “Mary Kate Ashley Olson” as one person, instead of giving credit to both actresses.


Perhaps that billing contributed to the mystique of the commodity they were selling. Perhaps they were only counted as one person on the census. Whatever the reason, I’m certain that Hayley Mills would not have approved.


P.S. I found the Russell twins on another page in the yearbook. Not conjoined.