To some, PRIVATE BENJAMIN will always be thought of as Goldie Hawn. But to others, she will be another actress, one that may not be as well known, Lorna Patterson.
Lorna actually played the character longer. For three seasons on CBS, running 39 episodes between 1981 and 1983, Lorna played Judy Benjamin, everyone’s favorite spoiled princess turned army soldier.
Lately, Lorna hasn’t been heard from much.
PRIVATE BENJAMIN may not even be the role you remember her from. After beginning her career in guest roles in several TV shows she played one of the flight attendants in a little film called AIRPLANE.
She had the unforgettable moment, playing the guitar to the sick girl.
She followed that role up with a TV movie, SIDNEY SHORR: A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND, as a single mother who befriends a lonely older man (who was supposedly gay, but that was just hinted at in the story) played by Tony Randall. This film went on to become the sitcom LOVE, SIDNEY, with Lorna being replaced by Swoosie Kurtz.
She was most likely replaced since she went on to star in PRIVATE BENJAMIN.
PRIVATE BENJAMIN, the series, was a popular show, enough that it aired in syndication for much of the 1980’s. Lorna appeared along with original film cast members Eileen Brennan and Hal Williams.
PRIVATE BENJAMIN turned out to be the biggest role of her career. She would act throughout the rest of the 80’s, in guest starring roles in various TV series, such as HOTEL and, once again, MURDER SHE WROTE but never in a starring role like in PRIVATE BENJAMIN. There was a 1991 episode of MAJOR DAD and her last appearance was a 1993 TV show called BASIC VALUES.
So, what ever happened to her?
In 1983, she married actor Robert Ginty (THE EXTERMINATOR, countless TV series). It appears that this coincides with her drop off of acting. She became a wife.
Later (date unknown) they were divorced and she married Michael Lembeck. Michael Lembeck you may remember as one of the husbands in the later seasons of ONE DAY AT A TIME. He is now a major television director. They are still married and have two children.
Lorna has become a stage actress. She was one of the founding members of the Musical Theatre Guild in Los Angeles. She still acts there today.