OFFBEAT: Passing of famed pairs this month totals three

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-01-23T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Passing of famed pairs this month totals threeBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

The ages-old expression is that "deaths always come in threes."

But this month, it seems "two of a kind" has been a common connection, at least with the passing of notable twins.

Besides Pauline Phillips, aka Abigail Van Buren aka "Dear Abby," who died Thursday at age 94 and was the syndicated advice columnist twin sister of Chicago's own Ann Landers, the world lost one-half of two other famous sets.

Last week, on Jan. 14, actor Conrad Bain died at age 89.

Best known for his TV work, his career started with playing an innkeeper on the spooky soap opera "Dark Shadows," before cast as Bea Arthur's neighbor on "Maude" in the 1970s and wealthy Mr. Drummond on "Diff'rent Strokes" in the 1980s.

He is survived by his actor identical twin brother Bonar Bain, who played the twin brother of Conrad's character on "Maude," as well as appearing on the Canadian TV comedy sketch show "SCTV." (The twins were born and raised in Canada.)

And on Jan. 9, Vivian Brown, one half of the famous and often photographed Brown Twins of  Kalamazoo, Mich. died at age 85.

She is survived by her identical twin Marian.

Even if their names may not seem familiar, their faces have been seen on countless commercials, film and television shows. After earning identical degrees at  Western Michigan University, the twins later left the cold winters of Kalamazoo in 1970 to live in San Francisco, where they accepted jobs as secretaries.

But their passion for dressing alike in high-fashion, including hats and furs and doing everything in unison (since neither married), turned heads as they walked down the street, both at 5 feet 1 inch, and each weighing 98 pounds.

Soon, they were appearing in commercials and advertisements for top brand campaigns including IBM, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Joe Boxer shorts, AT&T, Dell and Apple computers. In recent years, Vivian began to become forgetful due to Alzheimer's disease. After a slip and fall last summer, the twins were separated for the first time, after Vivian moved to a retirement home.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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