Skip to main content
#
The Independent Critic

 The Patty Duke Interview (Continued) 
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Reddit
Add to favorites
Email
The Independent Critic

I was reflecting while driving over here for the interview, and in many ways you're kind of the reverse of what our current society thinks of child stars who so often these days acquire quick fame, then all too often blow up and burn out.

Anna "Patty" Duke

I recognize a person may be born with mental illness, however, certainly show business has aspects that trigger that mental illness and cultivate and nurture it - until it costs money. Then, all of a sudden it's not funny anymore. I would like those of us who need the help to get it before those guys tell us that we're costing them money.

The Independent Critic

It's everywhere, really.

Anna "Patty" Duke

True, but in show business it seems to get highlighted more. There are also so many more media outlets now - I mean if I heard "Charlie Sheen" one time in the last month, I heard it 1,000 times. There's a part of me that aches for Charlie - the part of me that knows what it's like. There's another part of me that says "Charlie! Shape up!" I have these fantasies - that he's going ot get himself well and he's going to dedicate himself to getting the word out about it all.

The Independent Critic

Which is really what his father has done with alcoholism...

Anna "Patty" Duke

Yes! You know I've worked with his dad. I adore him. Again, watching his family go through all of this...and so publicly. It seems that Charlie doesn't give a damn - I promise you that he does.

The Independent Critic

I was looking through your filmography and more recent projects. You've always, throughout your career, had a strong emphasis on positive projects, but it seems like in the last few years you've really emphasized life-affirming, positive projects. Is that a conscious choice?

Anna "Patty" Duke

I got lucky. I'd love to tell you that I sought out and chose every single project. It would be a bald-faced lie. They came my way and I just didn't say "No!" There was a time when I was the queen of the TV movies. It was a magical time. Audiences were looking for those kinds of stories.

The Independent Critic

Shifting gears. I want to go back and talk a bit more about kids. Is there a way to make Hollywood safer for kids? Child actors?

Anna "Patty" Duke

Sure. It's already happening. When I was President of SAG (Screen Actors Guild, from 1985-88), we started to intentionally look at what goes on in the work place with kids. Rules and regulations were put into place that weren't in place when I was a kid. Now, there's a mindset - There are safe places and if someone witnesses something that they believe might be abuse they can call SAG and anonymously report it. SAG will send someone out to check it out. It's also a matter of educating parents, because parents can get rabid and we can lose track of "What the healthiest approach with our kid?" There are classes and seminars for parents that basically say "You've got to check yourself, as well."

The Independent Critic

I had no idea that SAG offered that.

Anna "Patty" Duke

It's not as well known as it should be. It's mostly known in the day-to-day entertainment world. (Pause). See, isn't this better than my writing the answers out?

The Independent Critic

(Laughing) Absolutely. Way better. I don't know how I'm going to get this all down to one article, though!

Anna "Patty" Duke

Yeah. You're screwed.

The Independent Critic

Can you speak a bit to what "Breaking the Cycle" has meant in your own life? You've kind of already implied that you're a better spouse/parent.

Anna "Patty" Duke

I've been married 25 years! For a Bipolar, that's really something!

The Independent Critic

I've been married to a Bipolar. Trust me, I understand!

Anna "Patty" Duke

I am a healthier person all the way around, which is not to say that I don't have neuroses and that I won't be a pain in the ass. I gave up the psychosis. I didn't give up the pain in the ass stuff. I can be a very demanding wife and mom, but in other ways I'm now able to look at, say, a particular issue and see if I'm reacting to it out of something from my past or from the situation in the moment. More and more, I'm living in the here and now.

I'm also far less judgmental than I used to be. That doesn't mean that I don't have opinions. However, my first instinct isn't to judge something that my kid is doing or my husband is doing. It used to be, and it was always done negatively. If I have a judgment now, I usually think about it before I pronounce it. That just makes for less yelling in the house! (Laughing). 

"Breaking the cycle" has been nothing but positive. I hesitate to say that, because it tends to make people think "That's not possible." But, it's true. That doesn't mean that there isn't anxiety. There is. Just because I've been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and take medications every day doesn't mean I can't be anxious. We're affected by the economy, too. There are times we'll wonder "How are we going to pay this bill or that bill?" or the broader questions like Libya. In the 30 years since being diagnosed and treated, I've come to reocgnize that by achieving balance I can now see it all for what it is.

The Independent Critic

Why use your voice this way? It seems like since you found out there was hope, you had to start telling people about it...

Anna "Patty" Duke

Absolutely. When I began taking medications along with my talk therapy, within three weeks I was experiencing a difference. It wasn't that I was feeling magnificent, but there was an absence of the motor running and deep, dark cave-like depressions. I was compelled to tell people. I didn't experience that "I've got to hide thing." I mean, I'd had times where I'd stay in bed for three months at a time crying and not knowing why. That stopped.

The Independent Critic

You've really shared your entire healing journey with others...

Anna "Patty" Duke

I have shared my journey. I'll admit I do sometimes get frustrated with those who don't want to accept their diagnosis. I want to just kind of smack 'em, but the part of me that's balanced now knows there's a better way. We don't have to suffer! That's not what God meant for us I think. (Pause). I don't speak for God all the time... I did much more when I was in a manic phase.

The Independent Critic

You seem to have an amazing ability to connect and relate to people authentically.

Anna "Patty" Duke

The kindness part of the healing is one of the parts I love the most. I was born a loving person. I've never met a stranger, but healing has really allowed that part of me to grow.

The Independent Critic

It's amazing to me that you didn't lose that quality through everything.

Anna "Patty" Duke

It has only been enhanced. I go back to less positive things now only because I want to stress the positive things. I still have neuroses, of course. I still have an outrageous fear of death. I ran around screaming about it before medications and talk therapy. The big questions in life still exist whether one is diagnosed or not. That's why talk therapy is so important along with the medications. You can't have one without the other. We also need to talk with our peers, sharing with each other how we got through certain passages in our life.

The Independent Critic

I appreciate all your time...only a couple more questions.

Anna "Patty" Duke

See. My hand would have fallen off by now! (Laughing)

The Independent Critic

I definitely understand now why you wanted to actually talk!

Anna Marie Duke was born on December 14, 1946 in Elmhurst, New York. She was the youngest of three children (Ray and Carol being her siblings), and has described her parents, John and Frances, as being "filled with love" but not necessarily educated or enlightened in parenting. Her father was an alcoholic, and left the family home when Anna was a small child. It would be years before her mother's mental illness and extreme bouts of depression would be disclosed. Anna's acting career took off after being introduced to her brother's co-managers, John and Ethel Ross.  In our conversation, Anna described the Ross's as having taken a "sophistication in abuse I'd never have thought possible." She further states, "I think they started off with the best of intentions, however, when I got successful they got scared. Their way of dealing with that fear was to isolate me and demean me with comments like "You're nothing without us," which sounds cliche' but was very real for me. The abuse became so extreme that one day Ethel boldly pronounced "Anna Marie is dead. You're Patty now." Anna would leave the Ross home at the age of 18, following a loud and angry scene but not before her abuse would include sexual molestation.

Anna "Patty" Duke

By the time I left, the rage inside was enormous. I don't think 4 or 5 doctors could have dealth with it. Years later, the anger was still inside me and was being misdirected towards others.

The Independent Critic

Was writing Call Me Anna a way of reclaiming your true self?

Anna "Patty" Duke

Yes, it was. However, it came about because I was given the opportunity and I could talk about my mental illness and use the book as a platform. Then, the other stuff started coming out. John and Ethel were dead by the time I wrote Call Me Anna, and I bent over triple backwards to make sure it was fair to them. If these people had been alive, I might've been too scared.

The Independent Critic

You have this wonderful ability to clearly speak your truth, claim it but not wear it as a victimizing identity.

Anna "Patty" Duke

What a lovely way to put it. Thank you. I may have been victimized as a child, I'll go that far. That child was and is a survivor. My gratitude for being a survivor insists that I spread goodness now wherever I can.

The Independent Critic

How do you take care of yourself as you give so much to so many?

Anna "Patty" Duke

Well. God gave me Michael Pearce, my husband of 25 years. I would have to be honest with a psychiatrist and say that we're co-dependent, but we like it that way. It works, so we don't mess with it. He is the salt of the earth. There is an element of his not being a part of show business that has been helpful and healthy for me. We live a low-key life in this freezing place called North Idaho. I'm comfortable in his and my skin, mostly.

The Independent Critic

So, you don't do the Hollywood scene?

Anna "Patty" Duke

I never really did. I don't have the clothes for it (Laughs).

The Independent Critic

Now, you did win the Oscar!

Anna "Patty" Duke

Please! Don't remind me of that dress that Ethel made. That hairdo was for a 66-year-old and I was 16-years-old. (Richard's Note: The dreaded "Oscar" attire is on page one of this interview. She's right. It is pretty dreadful!). We're up to our eyeballs in dogs, we have our grandchildren here plus grand nieces and nephews. We also have grandchildren in Los Angeles that we don't see often enough. We're very involved in the local community. Oh, guess what...Just before this I was looking over the script. I'm directing a production of The Miracle Worker in Spokane, Washington.

The Independent Critic

Wow. Now that's full circle!

Anna "Patty" Duke

We really live simple lives. I travel for these talks 2-3 times a month.

The Independent Critic

Any film or television jobs coming up?

Anna "Patty" Duke

No jobs right now. It's your job to get me a job!

The Independent Critic

I'll tell you what. This interview is going to be so awesome that they'll be knocking at your door remembering what an incredible actress you are.

Anna "Patty" Duke

From your lips to God's ears.

The Independent Critic

Hey, I am a minister. It's always possible (Laughs).

Anna "Patty" Duke

Really? That's awesome. Good thing you didn't tell me that up front. Hey, you know that Universal Life Church? I did get ordained that way. $60. I even have all the clothes. I perform weddings once in awhile! (Laughing).

The Independent Critic

One of the things I always stress on my site is the power that we have to positively influence each other's lives and how important it is to do so. You've been very open and honest about your influences and even protectors. Can you speak a bit to that in closing?

Anna "Patty" Duke

Anne Bancroft was certainly my role model as a child, now it's my husband and my husband and I serve that role for our grandchildren. We're the house everyone always wants to go to. We want to be people that they don't just look up to, but where they also feel safe. I think it's so important to give children respect, we expect respect from children but too often kids don't get much.

The Independent Critic

Thank you so much for your time. This has been a true joy.

Anna "Patty" Duke

Thank you and thank you for helping me spread the word!


© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic





 Patty Duke Trivia 
  • Anna is the mother of actors Sean and Mackenzie Astin
  • Anna and her current husband Michael are also parents to Kevin, born in 1988
  • Had a gold record in 1965, "Don't Just Stand There"
  • In 1955, she won the top prize on "The $64,000 Question"
  • Won the Academy Award in 1963 for portraying Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker," a role she originated on Broadway
  • Has been nominated for 9 Emmy Awards, winning 3.
  • Has been nominated for 3 Golden Globes, winning one plus an award for "Most Promising Newcomer- Female" in 1963
  • Received a Star on the Walk of Fame in 2004
  • Has won numerous awards for her community service work in the areas of disability awareness, mental health, AIDS and on political issues
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

    our twitterour facebook page pintrestgoogle pluslinkdin

    The Independent Critic © 2008 - 2019