I represent the first generation who, when we were born, the television was now a permanent fixture in our homes. When I was born people had breakfast with Barbara Walters, dinner with Walter Cronkite, and slept with Johnny Carson.
Read the full "Pre-ramble"
Tuesday, March 29, 2016
When I'm 80 and sitting in a rocking chair listening to the Rolling Stones,
there is absolutely no way I'm going to feel old or forget my younger days
Patty Duke was born in Elmhurst, Queens, New York, the youngest of three children born to Frances (née McMahon), a cashier, and John Brock Duke, a handyman and cab driver. She was of German (from her maternal grandmother) and Irish descent (on both sides, her paternal grandparents, James and Katness (O'Hara) Duke, having immigrated to New York from County Longford, Ireland).
Duke, her brother Raymond, and her sister Carol experienced a tough childhood. Their father was an alcoholic. Their mother suffered from clinical depression and was prone to violence. When Duke was six, her mother threw her father out. When she was eight, her care was turned over to talent managers John and Ethel Ross, who, after promoting Patty's brother, were looking for a girl to add to their stable of child actors.
The Rosses' methods of managing Duke's career were often unscrupulous and exploitative. They consistently billed Duke as being two years younger than she actually was and padded her resume with false credits.Ethel Ross gave the sweeping name-change order - "Anna Marie is dead; you're Patty now." She hoped that "Patty Duke" would duplicate the success of tween actress Patty McCormack. This act would have painful repercussions for Duke in the future.
One of Duke's first acting jobs was in the late 1950s, on the soap operaThe Brighter Day. She also appeared in print ads and in television commercials. In 1959, at the age of 12, Duke appeared on The $64,000 Question and won $32,000. Her category of expertise was spelling. In 1962, it was revealed that the game show had been rigged and she was called to testify before a panel of the United States Senate.
Duke's own series, The Patty Duke Show, which Sidney Sheldon created especially for her, began in 1963. Sheldon asked Duke to spend a week with his family at their home to generate ideas. At that time, it was not known that Duke had bipolar disorder but Sheldon did notice that she had two distinct sides to her personality and so developed the concept of identical cousins with contrasting personalities.
Duke portrayed both main characters: Patricia "Patty" Lane, a fun-loving American teenager who occasionally got into minor trouble at school and home, and her 'prim and proper' "identical cousin" from Scotland, Catherine "Cathy" Lane. William Schallert portrayed Patty's father Martin, Jean Byron her mother Natalie, Paul O'Keefe her younger brother Ross, and Eddie Applegate her boyfriend Richard. The show also featured such high-profile guest stars asSammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Paul Lynde, and Sal Mineo. The series lasted three seasons and earned Duke an Emmy Award nomination. In 1999, the program's characters were revisited and updated in The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin' In Brooklyn Heights, with Cindy Williams taking on the villain role of Sue Ellen Turner when Kitty Sullivan was unable to reprise her role.
Despite her successful career, Duke was deeply miserable during her teenage years. The Rosses made efforts to portray her as a normal teenager, but she later indicated in her memoir Call Me Anna that she was virtually the Rosses' prisoner, and had little control over her earnings or her life. The Rosses controlled her and her mother by allowing them only a small amount of money to survive on. They also started supplying Duke with alcohol and prescription drugs when she was 13; this, along with her undiagnosed bipolar disorder, contributed to her young-adult substance-abuse problems. As an adult, Duke accused both Rosses of sexual abuse. Upon turning 18, Duke became legally free of the Rosses, only to discover that they had squandered most of her earnings, in violation of the Coogan Act.
After the cancellation of The Patty Duke Show, Duke attempted to leave her childhood success behind and began her adult acting career by playing Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls (1967). The film was a box-office success, but audiences and critics had a difficult time accepting all-American-teenager Duke as an alcoholic, drug-addicted singing star. While the film has since become a camp classic—thanks in large part to Duke's over-the-top performance—at the time, it almost ruined her career.
Duke starred in Me, Natalie (1969), a film in which she played an "ugly duckling" Brooklyn teenager struggling to make a life for herself in the Bohemian world in Greenwich Village. One of the other performers in the film was Al Pacino making his film debut. The film was a box-office failure, but Duke won the Golden Globe for Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) for the role.
Duke returned to television in 1970, starring in a made-for-TV movie, My Sweet Charlie. Her sensitive portrayal of a pregnant teenager on the run won Duke her first Emmy Award, but her acceptance speech was rambling, angry, and disjointed, and led many in the industry to believe she was drunk or using drugs at the moment. In fact, Duke was in the throes of a manic phase of her bipolar disorder, which would remain undiagnosed until 1982.
From the mid-1970s to the early 2000s, Duke worked primarily in television Among other TV appearances, she could occasionally be seen as a guest celebrity on the game show Match Game. She received her second Emmy in 1977 for the TV miniseriesCaptains and the Kings, and her third in 1980 for a TV version of her 1979 stage revival of The Miracle Worker, this time playing Anne Sullivan to Melissa Gilbert's Helen Keller. Her turns in the made-for-TV movies The Women's Room (1980) and George Washington (1984) both garnered her Emmy nominations.
In 1982, Duke was cast alongside Richard Crenna in the ABC sitcom It Takes Two, from Soap and Benson creator Susan Harris. The socially topical series depicted both Duke's and Crenna's characters as a modern career couple (hers was a lawyer, his a surgeon) and the moral and personal challenges that abounded from their professions. Helen Hunt and Anthony Edwards played their teenaged offspring. Although It Takes Two was praised, ABC cancelled the series after one season due to low ratings.
Duke subsequently worked with Susan Harris on a new ABC series, Hail To The Chief, which premiered in April 1985. She appeared as the first female President of the United States in the ensemble, all-star series, which featured, among others, Dick Shawn, Herschel Bernardi, Glynn Turman, and Ted Bessell as Duke's husband. The material was topical yet off-the-wall, much in the fashion of the previously popular show Soap. Hail To The Chief was less successful than the star's and producer's previous joint effort, It Takes Two, and was cancelled after only seven episodes. In 1987, Duke returned to series television in another short-lived comedy, Karen's Song, which aired on the fledgling Fox network.
While between series in 1986, Duke starred in the made-for-TV movie A Time to Triumph, the true story of Concetta Hassan, a middle-aged woman who struggles to support her family after her construction worker husband suffers an on-the-job injury, but who eventually becomes a United States Army helicopter pilot. On set, Duke became good friends with Army drill sergeant Michael Pearce, who was a technical advisor for the production; the couple married on March 15, 1986.
In 1990, Duke's autobiography, Call Me Anna, was adapted for television; she played herself from her mid-30s onward.
Though Duke's primary medium from the late-1970s to the mid-2000s was television, she continued to take small roles in movies. Her 1982 portrayal of a lesbian fashion designer in the Canadian film By Design garnered her a Genie Award nomination for Best Foreign Actress. Duke portrayed the mother o fMeg Ryan's character in the 1992 film adaptation of the play Prelude to a Kiss. Her appearances in three episodes of Touched by an Angel resulted in an Emmy nomination in 1999.
Duke gradually reduced her work schedule throughout the first decade of 2000, but took occasional TV and film roles. She returned to the New York stage in 2002, playing Aunt Eller in a revival of Oklahoma! She returned to New York in 2005, but not for any role; she instead attended a memorial for Anne Bancroft, who had died from uterine cancer.
On November 2, 2004, Duke announced that she would undergo single cardiac bypass surgery in Idaho. The surgery was successful.
On October 4, 2007, Duke appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, talking about her bipolar disorder to a guest, advising the guest to seek out a support group.
In early 2009, Duke reprised her role(s) as Patty Lane and Cathy Lane in PSAs about retiring for The Social Security Administration. Another opportunity for her to reprise Patty and Cathy has been in 2016 for the promotion of MeTV.
On July 20, 2009, Duke was given a tribute in her honor at The Castro Theatre in San Francisco titled "Sparkle, Patty, Sparkle!" During the evening, Duke met and posed for pictures with over one thousand fans and was interviewed on stage by comic Bruce Vilanch. In addition to showing clips from her long career, Duke's 1967 film Valley of the Dolls was screened at the end of the evening. The event sold out the 1400 seat theater.
In 2010, Duke recorded a series of PSAs for the Social Security Administration to help promote applying online for Medicare, including one with George Takei.
In June 2011, TVLine announced that Duke will be joining the cast in Lifetime’s drama The Protector playing the role of Beverly, the mother of Ally Walker’s titular homicide detective. The series was cancelled not long after this announcement was made.
She played the mother of a murdered deep-sea diver on the Oct. 10, 2011, episode of Hawaii Five-0.
In the fourth season of Fox's hit show Glee, Duke played lesbian jeweler Jan, who helped Blaine Anderson pick out a wedding ring to propose to his ex-boyfriend Kurt Hummel.
In the third season of Disney's Liv and Maddie, Duke guest starred as Grandma Janice and Great-aunt Hilary, a pair of identical twins against Dove Cameron who is also playing a pair of twins.
In 1987, Duke revealed in her autobiography that she was diagnosed with manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) in 1982. Her treatment, which included lithium as a medication and therapy, stabilized Duke's life and put her on the road to recovery. She became the first celebrity to go public with her bipolar disorder diagnosis, and has contributed to de-stigmatizing bipolar disorder. Duke then became an activist for numerous mental health causes. She has lobbied the United States Congress and joined forces with the National Institute of Mental Health and National Alliance on Mental Illness in order to increase awareness, funding, and research for people with mental illness.
Patty Duke's character in the 2011 series The Protector is shown struggling with accepting her bipolar disorder, mimicking her real-life condition.
On August 17, 2004, Duke received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the motion picture industry.
On December 14, 2007, Duke was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters degree from the University of North Florida for her work in advancing awareness of mental health issues.
Her son, actor Sean Astin, was born on February 25, 1971. Though Duke said in her 1987 autobiography that John Astin was Sean's biological father, she later stated that she had always believed that Desi Arnaz Jr. was Sean's biological father. It turned out that neither statement was correct; in 1994, Sean Astin underwent biological testing to determine his paternity, and the results showed that Astin's father is actually Michael Tell.