Monday, November 14, 2022

Top TV Moments: Pamelyn Ferdin


When you think back on the Comfort TV child stars that are still fondly remembered, almost all of them are associated with one particular role in a successful series. But there are a few who worked steadily throughout the era and who had a familiarity and appeal beyond the roles they played.


I’d definitely put Pamelyn Ferdin in that category. With her aquiline features and noodle-y voice, she was instantly recognizable in dozens of recurring roles and guest appearances. As she writes on her website, “If you had a favorite TV show growing up, there’s a pretty good chance I appeared on it.” Bold words, but she has the resume to back them up. 



Breaking Point (1964)

Pamelyn Ferdin is five years older than I am. But while I was busy being born in 1964, she was already working. That year she made her TV debut (billed as “little girl”) in an episode of the medical drama Breaking Point entitled “The Summer House.” I’ve watched a few episodes of the show but was unable to find this one. It’s an interesting series, one of the few from that era created by a woman – Meta Rosenberg, who also co-wrote several episodes. If you’re curious about the state of psychiatry about 60 years ago, Breaking Point and The Eleventh Hour should give you a pretty good idea.


Family Affair (1966)

Pamelyn Ferdin appears in four episodes as four different characters. She turns up in one of the series’ best first-season shows, “Mrs. Beasley, Where Are You?” in which Mr. French accidently knocks Buffy’s beloved doll off the terrace to an uncertain fate. Later, another little girl (Ferdin) in the same building is spotted carrying a doll that looks just like Mrs. Beasley. But appearances can be deceiving. 



Star Trek (1969)

“And the Children Shall Lead” is one of the series’ strangest season three episodes – and in a season that also featured alien flower children and the Enterprise crew meeting Abraham Lincoln, that’s saying something. We’re expected to believe that a few traumatized kids could assume control of the Federation’s flagship, rendering the crew helpless, without saying a word. Ferdin plays Mary, one of the children, who is ultimately rescued by Kirk from the alien that is manipulating them. 



The Odd Couple (1971)

In my memory I recall Ferdin appearing often on this series as Felix’s chip-off-the-old-block daughter Edna. But IMDB tells us she was only in three episodes. I guess that’s a compliment that those few stories stood out. I especially liked “Surprise, Surprise,” in which Felix plans a surprise birthday part for Edna on the same night that Oscar has scheduled a poker game in their apartment. I still remember her reaction to Oscar’s bedroom: “This place is a fire hazard!”



The Brady Bunch (1971)

Of the many episodes that explored Jan’s insecurity, “Will the Real Jan Brady Please Stand Up?” may be the most humiliating. Once again feeling overshadowed, she becomes convinced that a curly brunette wig will help her stand out from her sisters. And it does – but not in the way she hopes. 


When she arrives at Lucy Winters’ birthday party, everyone assumes the wig is a joke. But it is Lucy (played by Ferdin) who talks Jan back off the ledge by telling her that all the kids are envious of her beautiful blond hair. 



Curiosity Shop (1971)

I wish I remembered this Saturday morning children’s show in more detail. But one aspect I do remember clearly is Pamelyn Ferdin being on it – a tribute, I guess, to the impression she always makes.


The Paul Lynde Show (1972)

Lynde plays Paul Simms, an attorney who doesn’t spend much time in court, and a family man who doesn’t seem to care much for his family. You can make a protagonist this misanthropic work with good material, but there wasn't much of that here. Still, there are a few laughs in the episodes I’ve seen, because it’s almost impossible to make Paul Lynde not funny. Ferdin plays the family’s youngest daughter Sally, described by her dad as “too old to spank, too young for a religious sacrifice.” This was Ferdin’s longest recurring role – she appears in all 26 episodes. 


Shazam (1974)

In a story that foretells Pamelyn Ferdin’s future as an animal rights activist, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” has her playing Lynn Colby, a sheriff’s daughter trying to rescue a horse that is scheduled to be put down by a man who abused the animal, and paid for his cruelty with a permanent limp. 


John Karlen plays the villain with a crazed intensity you didn’t often see on Saturday mornings. Billy and Mentor teach Lynn that problems like this are best solved by obeying the law instead of breaking it.


The Streets of San Francisco (1976)

This is arguably Ferdin’s finest hour as a dramatic actress. In “Runaway” she plays Chris, a teenager who travels from Kansas to San Francisco to find her absentee father. When she enters his apartment and finds a dead man, she assumes she is too late. But it turns out the deceased was not her father but a man killed by her father. Their reunion is less than joyous, as she discovers dear old dad is a lowlife thief that wants nothing to do with her.


Space Academy (1977)

When it came to live-action Saturday morning TV in the 1970s, only Filmation rivaled the Kroffts in quality and productivity. Space Academy featured Jonathan Harris as the commander of a futuristic military school. Ferdin played Cadet Laura Gentry, one of a pair of psychic siblings who went on missions to protect their part of the galaxy. 


It was a fun show with surprisingly good special effects for its time. And fans may still remember its use of futuristic military slang (Orrico!)). This was also Ferdin’s best shot at action figure immortality, but the misogynist toy industry only made figures out of the show’s male characters. As annoying little Loki would say, “Camelopartus!”




  1. My gosh, how strange!! David, just recently I began watching Family Affair on Tubi, and this past Friday night I was watching the episode (Season 3) where Uncle Bill is "gifted" with a weekend free of the kids & Mr. French. And who shows up at his door? The upstairs neighbor Pamelyn with her little brother. My first thought was "Pamelyn, how many episodes are you in on this show?" The very next morning I'm watching Shazam (also on Tubi) and yep, it's the episode where she's trying to save that horse from being shot. Captain Marvel saves the day by battling bureaucracy! Anyway, of course I'll always remember her best as Jan Brady's best pal. And holy smokes, she was born in 1959, I was born in 1961. Never realized how close in age we were. I always dug her voice, she's groovy. :^)

    1. I plan these posts out months in advance so the timing would work out that way. :) And from all indications, she is indeed still pretty groovy. She has an autobiography coming out next year that should be interesting reading.


    1. She's still very active in animal rights causes, and after she quit show business she became a nurse.

  3. Pamelyn Ferdin's multiple appearances on "Family Affair" are due to being a finalist to portray Buffy.

    1. We'll never know how that might have worked out - but today it's hard to imagine anyone else but Anissa in that role.

  4. Mr. Hofstede, have you thought about doing a Comfort TV blog commentary about Moosie Drier? Like Pamelyn Ferdin, Moosie Drier was a child actor who was active during the 1970s. He appeared with Michael Parks, Mary Louise Weller, and William Windom in the 1978 TV movie "Hunters of the Reef."

  5. Pamelyn Ferdin appeared on the television program "Creature Features" earlier this year. So did her 1969 TV movie "Daughter of the Mind." Check out the following URLs:

  6. Last year, a YouTuber named Dave Sundstrom made a video about Pamelyn Ferdin. To watch it, check out the following URL: