Marilyn Thiel, 76, half of Borden twins
With sister, she appeared on 1955 'I Love Lucy' show
Thursday, Mar. 26, 2009, THE MODESTO BEE

Marilyn Borden of Senior Divas.
By Lisa Millegan

Marilyn Borden Thiel, part of the Borden acting twins who appeared on "I Love Lucy," died Wednesday in Modesto. She was 76.

She had congestive heart failure and died at Kaiser Modesto Medical Center. Her twin, Rosalyn Borden Shackley, died in 2003.

The twins played sheriff's daughters Teensy and Weensy with guest star Tennessee Ernie Ford in episode 112 of "I Love Lucy," titled "Tennessee Bound."

Mrs. Thiel never lost the performing bug and sang with her own group, Senior Divas, for the last couple of years in the Modesto area. The trio prided itself on its outrageous spirit and feather boas. Mrs. Thiel also opened for Bob Newhart in May 2007 at the Turlock Community Theatre.

"I called her the supreme diva," said Senior Divas member Shirley Hausner. "She was my very, very, very dear friend and she brought so much to my life. She helped me do my thing. If it weren't for her, I would never be doing what I'm doing -- singing."

Hausner and remaining Senior Divas member Elsie Merenda still plan to perform Saturday night at the Barkin' Dog in downtown Modesto. Hausner said Mrs. Thiel wanted them to go forward with the show.

The Borden twins were born May 29, 1932, in Hartford, Conn., and were joined by younger sister Barbara 13 years later.

The twins jumped into show business at age 4 when they performed on a radio station with Ed Begley Sr. They began to work in television in the early 1950s with Spike Jones and became regulars on the "Colgate Comedy Hour." Lucille Ball liked them so much she had her writers create parts for them on "I Love Lucy." Their episode aired Jan. 24, 1955.

The twins were regulars on the "Jimmy Durante Show" and performed as Hotsy and Totsy while working the nightclub circuit. They also appeared with Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis and Newhart.

Mrs. Thiel married Herman "Ted" Thiel in 1968 and continued on with show business. She and her sister performed with the USO entertaining troops in Korea, Japan and the Philippines. They also made appearances on such TV shows as "Maude" and "CHiPs."

The Borden twins appeared at Lucille Ball conventions throughout the country and moved to Modesto in 2002. Mrs. Thiel's husband died in 2007.

Mrs. Thiel is survived by her sister Barbara and stepson Ted Thiel. A memorial service will be held in May. Evins Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

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