Patrick Duffy and Linda Purl Share Happy Family Memories & More

Patrick Duffy is a man filled with gratitude. He’s beloved around the world for his roles as Bobby Ewing in Dallas and Frank Lambert in Step by Step, two standouts in a distinguished, five-decade career (he’s currently starring in The Bold and the Beautiful). Some of his happiest memories aren’t necessarily on a set or surrounding accolades about his career, but instead in a kitchen with family and friends. It’s with that in mind, and his family’s long and loving history with a sourdough starter — the Duffy family have kept their sourdough starter alive since 1952 — that his latest venture begins. When Patrick met actress and singer Linda Purl (remember Fonzie’s girlfriend Ashley on Happy Days?), the two immediately hit it off — it helped that he wooed her with his sourdough cinnamon roll recipe. During the pandemic, the couple found comfort in making the Duffy family recipes together and were inspired by the idea of sharing that tradition with others. They started Duffy’s Dough ( with hopes that in time, Duffy’s Dough could support causes they believe in from world hunger relief to education and the environment. Here the two share a little more on their new venture and their iconic careers.

How did sourdough first come into your family’s life, and how long have you kept it active?

Patrick Duffy: My mother received the starter from an old woman in Alaska in 1952, and at that time it was said to be well over 50 years old. Mom kept it active and used it extensively during the 1 1/2 years we were in Alaska and took it with her when returning to Montana. Growing up it was basically dinner rolls and pancakes only, but often. My sister was the first to take it with her when she left home, and later, after I graduated from college, I took a starter from it and have kept it active ever since.

When was the first time Patrick made the bread for you, and what was your initial reaction?

Linda Purl: Drooled. I mean, come on … sourdough pancakes?!? Sourdough cinnamon rolls?? It was early on in our relationship when Patrick brought his family sourdough magic into the kitchen. No turning back after that!

Patrick Duffy and Linda Purl

What made now a good time to share your baking kits with the world?

Linda: We have a phrase; it’s not original but we have adopted it: “If not now, when?” One of the many sentiments we share is gratitude … for family, for health, for our careers and circle of pals. At this legacy stage in our lives — that is to say, the stage where everything matters, where everything to the best of our abilities needs to align with our core values — one of the things we both feel impelled to do is to give back in some way. Duffy’s Dough, we hope, will grow to be an endeavor that can help accomplish that.

Patrick: The idea of sharing this began simply with us taking rolls, etc., to dinners we were invited to and seeing the reaction to the food and the story behind it. Combine that with seeing the need for family gatherings and communication planted the seed that cooking together can, as history has proven, bring people together. Having an alternative to “noses in the cellphone” family syndrome made sense to us and that became the reasoning behind Duffy’s Dough.

HAPPY DAYS, from left: Linda Purl, Henry Winkler, (1970s), 1974-84.

©ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection Credit: Jim Britt/TV Guide

Linda, let’s pretend your former costars Henry Winkler, Ron Howard and Steve Carell are all coming over (maybe they have!) What are you making? 

Linda: Patrick and I are lucky to meet many swell folks as we go — vendor in the Mexican village, sculptor at a soiree, then there is the long list of people we’ve never met but who we greatly admire. We have a running fantasy list of people we would like to come to our imaginary dinner party that includes all the former. So … confession … hosting dinner parties in our home is one of my MOST favorite things to do. I get my Martha Stewart on, polish three days ahead, set the table/do the flowers two days before and start to cook the day before. … I LOVE to put people together from disparate backgrounds, to learn from them, see what synchronicities occur. It’s a mini heaven to me. That or a big table of family. Those home events are amongst my absolute happiest of times. Here goes … Simple something over drinks beforehand. Soup to start with. A main course of, let’s say, chicken with a cream tarragon/mustard/caper sauce. Ratatouille that is heavy on red bell peppers. Polenta … cheese — infused or plain. Sourdough dinner rolls a MUST. Followed by a small salad with any/all kinds of lettuce and a simple vinaigrette dressing. Cheeses, then if it’s summer, a frozen custard ice cream with fresh fruit in it. Winter I’d probably go for pears sautéed in Marsala with a bit of blue cheese. Patrick has to choose the wines. Candles, lots of candles. No ties, fun dressy for the gals … all ages, hopefully with some doggies lounging about and a fire going till the guests head home at midnight and Patrick and I can curl up, tired and happy.

DALLAS, Patrick Duffy, 1978-91 (1980 photo)

Credit: Gene Trindl / ©CBS / courtesy Everett Collection

When it comes to your fan base, share a fan encounter that you will never forget and why.

Patrick: I remember after the airing of the Dallas episode where Bobby died I was doing my regular family grocery shopping when a lady awash with tears cornered me in the parking lot saying over and over again how sad it was that “I” was dead. No matter how I tried to console her and convince her indeed “I” was not dead, she finally walked away still crying and saying, “It’s just so sad, so sad you are dead.” The power of TV is truly amazing.

DALLAS: J.R. RETURNS, (from left): Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy, (aired Nov. 15, 1996).

©Warner Brothers Television / Courtesy: Everett Collection

What’s a standout memory you have and forever cherish in regard to working with Larry Hagman on Dallas? We know you two were very close.

Patrick: The daily experience of working with my best friend was a continual favorite memory. We would meet every morning in his dressing room, open a bottle of Champagne to toast our great fortune to be working. The rest of the days we were two 5-year-olds playing in the sandbox and stopping every once in a while to film a scene.