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Patricia and Joan Miller, who may have inherited their famously non-Jewish features from their dairy salesman father, Elmon Gordon ‘Bud’ Miller, appeared to be the best bet. Popular enough to sing on television’s “The Hoffman Hayride” in the 1950s, they certainly have a close resemblance to the image in our archive. It is tempting to declare the case closed and remove the stigma of the orphaned image.
But truth be told, it’s too close to call. And what about imprinting a mistaken identity and ending up with a case of the dybbuk of mixed-up-souls? The question may be more than purely theoretical.
The Miller twins became reclusive in later years and lived together in the resort town of South Lake Tahoe, Calif. In March 2012, the twins were found dead in different rooms in their shared home.
A coroner determined that they died of natural causes, but the case remains puzzling, since it’s unclear if they died within a very short time of each other. Detective Matt Harwood told Britain’s Daily Mail that he believed the two sisters, long each other’s only companion, could not live without each other.
“My perception is, one died and the other couldn’t handle it,” said the detective, who has been unable to identify any close friends or family members to inform of the sisters’ deaths. ”It appears purely natural, but we are still trying to piece it all together.”
Getting back to our mystery photo, it’s like the Yiddish saying: “Az ikh vel zayn vi yener, ver vet zayn vi ikh?” It roughly translates to: ”If I am to be like someone else, who will be like me?” The unidentified pair in the photo could be the Millers, but it might not be them.
One day soon, the right answer might rise up from the Internet. Maybe someone will start a website for long-lost sister singing groups.
Chana Pollack is the Forward’s archivist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org