In 1941, Van Patten made her screen debut alongside her brother in "Reg'lar Fellers," a decidedly 'B' programmer in which they were amongst the youths trying to warm the heart of a dour lady. Van Patten's career gathered its real steam after she became a young adult. She has a supporting role to Kim Stanley in "The Goddess" (1958) and played Peter Sellers' dull fiancee in "I Love You, Alice B. Toklas" (1968). Van Patten was the sweetly Southern rival to Lucille Ball's "Mame" (1974) and was the chair of the local little league who hoped to see Walter Matthau fail in "The Bad News Bears" (1976). "St. Elmo's Fire" (1985) cast her as wife to her real-life ex-husband Martin Balsam and among her maternal roles are "The Falcon and the Snowman" (1985), as parent to Timothy Hutton, and "Blind Date" (1987), as Kim Basinger's mom.Van Patten also remained quite active in television. In 1956, she was in the original cast of the CBS daytime drama "As the World Turns" playing Janice Turner, the potential daughter-in-law of whom matriarch Nancy Hughes does not approve. She left the show after a year to join her brother in the NBC soap "Young Doctor Malone." In 1963, Van Patten headed for Hollywood, where she made an unsold pilot for a comedy skit show co-starring Paul Mazursky. She found regular employment as a member of the company of "The Danny Kaye Show" (CBS, 1964-67), although she did not appear in every episode. Her next regular gig was as Herb Edelman's wife, often exasperated by his friendship with Bob Denver, on "The Good Guys" (CBS, 1968-70) before she was tapped for the short-lived "The Don Rickles Show" (CBS, 1972) and "The Mary Tyler Moore Comedy Hour" (CBS, 1979). More recently. Van Patten spent two seasons (1995-96) as the takes-no-prisoners mother-in-law on The WB sitcom "Unhappily Ever After."