In the mid 1950 as Lee Patrick was aging her acting career suddenly blossomed. He geared herself toward comedy eccentrics and was a hit. At this time she was won the role of Henrietta Topper, the flighty, quivery-voiced wife of Leo G. Carroll on the popular ghostly sitcom "Topper" (1953). There would be other fun and fluttery turns in Pillow Talk (1959) and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964).
Lee Patrick got an RKO contract in 1937 which lead to steady secondary film work. In the 1940's she had became an invaluable Warner Brothers stock player enhancing such movies as "The Sisters" (1938), "Saturday's Children" (1940), "Dangerously They Live" (1942), "Now, Voyager" (1942), "Mrs. Parkington" (1944), and "Mildred Pierce" (1945).
Lee Patrick was a popular presence in New York during the 1920s and early 1930s. She received such scene-stealing roles as "June Moon," "Little Women," "Blessed Event" and "Stage Door."
It was Lee Patrick's father that got her interested in theater. He was an editor of a trade paper. She started off on the stock stage as a teen and debuted on Broadway in "The Green Beetle" in 1924.
Lee Patrick's only staring television role was in "Topper" as Henrietta Topper. All her other roles in television were guest roles.
Lee Patrick has acted opposite a variety of actors from Errol Flynn to Laurel and Hardy. Her career spans 25 years. Her most famous role was as Effie Perrine, Humphrey Bogart's ever-loving secretary, in The Maltese Falcon (1941).
Lee Patrick has been quoted as saying that she has "played them all: big sister, society matron, hooker, wisecracker, bubble dancer, nuthouse inmate, and even a song and dance girl."
In 1937 Lee Patrick lost her role in the reprise film version of Stage Door to Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers. Lee Patrick had made her film debut in 1929 but since that time had not appeared in a single film. RKO Studios were reluctant to allow an unknown actress to take a part in a film. Her disappointments continued when she was considered and then rejected for the lead role in Stella Dallas in favor of Barbara Stanwyck.
Lee Patrick's success in Stage Door in 1937 led Hollywood to reprise her role in the film version. The part was rewritten and split from a single character into two characters. The roles went to Katharine Hepburn and Ginger Rogers.
In 1941 Lee Patrick appeared in the "The Maltese Falcon". She played Effie Perine, the loyal and quick-thinking secretary of Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade. This has become one of her most enduring films.
In 1975 she made her final film. She attempted to reprise her role as Effie Perine in the story titled "The Black Bird". It was reworking of the Sam Spade story. The title role went to George Segal as Sam Spade Junior. The story is about a man forced to continue his father's work, and to keep his increasingly sarcastic secretary. The film attempted to turn its revered predecessor into a comedy, and was a box office failure.
Lee Patrick had difficulties in establishing a career as a leading actress. These problems have been attributed to a long standing feud Patrick had with gossip columnist Louella Parsons. The feud was over Lee's husband who was a journalist. He had written some unfavourable articles about Lowella Parsons.
Lee Patrick was happily married to new paper writer Tom Wood from 1937 until her death from a heart seizure on November 21, 1982. The couple never had children.
On November 21, 1982 in Laguna Beach, California, Lee Patrick suffered a fatal heart seizure. It was the day before it 81st birthday.
After Lee Patrick's death it was discovered that she was ten years older than she had ever revealed.