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Authors: Patty Duke

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Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke

BOOK: Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Here Patty Duke tells her personal story, her journey from child star to award-winning adult actress, from confused and abused teenager to a highly respected and refreshingly honest show business personality—and she tells it in a voice so familiar to millions of us, yet so starkly and startlingly frank that you will never see Patty Duke the same way again—or forget the little girl whose real name was Anna Marie. Inside Patty reveals:

  • Her terrifying appearances on TV’s rigged quiz show,
    The $64,000 Challenge
    , that led to her testimony before the congressional subcommittee investigating the show.
  • Her courageous break from her ruthless managers when they tried to stop her from seeing the first man she fell in love with.
  • Her passionate love affair with 17-year-old Desi Arnaz, Jr. that was thwarted by an angry Lucille Ball.
  • Her many liaisons that included a most unusual affair with Frank Sinatra, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, a wedding to a stranger, and her long-term stormy marriage to the much older John Astin.
  • The diagnosis of manic depression that began her successful rehabilitation.
  • The challenge of bringing up two sons who have followed their mother in acting careers.

 … and much more.

“Related with such appealing honesty, courage, self-deprecating humor and strong desire to make the reader understand how it all could have happened, that she succeeds in winning you over.”

The Washington Post


A Bantam Book
Bantam hardcover edition published August 1987
Bantam paperback edition / June 1988

All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1987 by patty Duke.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 87-47591.
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.

eISBN: 978-0-307-78866-5

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the words “Bantam Books” and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca Registrada. Bantam Books, 1540 Broadway, New York, New York 10036.


This book is dedicated to My Husband, my Mother, my Father, my Sister, my Brother, and my Children and theirs.

And bizarre though it may be, John and Ethel Ross.


Angel of God, my guardian dear
To Whom his love commits me here;
Ever this day be at my side
To light and guard
To rule and guide.

This little prayer from my childhood occurred to me as I recalled all those who should be thanked for bringing me this far.

Some of them have names that are familiar, some have names that are not and some will remain nameless even to me. Among those guardian angels are those without whom this particular promise could never have been kept. For their love, their light and their guidance, I am grateful to:

Mitchell Dawson for his good counsel as my friend, especially, but also as my good counsel.

Bobbe Joy Dawson, Mary Lou Pinckert, Sam Faulkner and the munchkin, Sandy Smith, the girlfriends I longed for and treasure so much.

Ralph and Rosalie Turner, my friends who insure that the fruits of my labor are now stored safely.

Laureen Lang and Neil Kreppel who’ve assisted me so lovingly in every way over the years.

Arnold and Lois Peyser, my friends who assured me if I did a TV Guide interview with Kenny Turan, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Steve Rubin, who read that article and had the insight, foresight, and faith to reteam Turan and Duke for Bantam.

Kenneth (you’ll always be Kenny to me) Turan. You met a gun-shy actress for a magazine interview and won her trust, her friendship, and her deep respect forever.

My children, all of you, for all that you are and all that you give me.

Dr. Harold Arlen for helping me find me at last.

And, of course you, Michael Ray Pearce, for finding me Forever and Our one day.


bout two years ago I went to a meeting in the office of Sid Sheinberg, president of MCA and one of the most powerful men in the entertainment industry. I was part of an ad hoc delegation of Screen Actors Guild members, a gracious, dignified lady. Sid looked at me hard and said, “Well, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” And I said, “Yes, it has.” Neither one of us went into any details. I just turned to the folks I was with and said, “Sid and I have had a few meetings in here.” What I didn’t tell them was that the last time I was in Sid’s office, I shouted a string of obscenities and threw his Mickey Mouse clock at him for good measure. When people said about me “She’s trouble,” they weren’t kidding.

That all happened in 1970, when I was pregnant but no one knew it. I was guest-starring on an episode of Matt Lincoln, M. D., starring Vince Edwards. We were on location on the palisades near San Pedro, and I was hanging off a cliff, supposedly committing suicide.

There had been a lot of technical problems that morning, the crew was tired and hungry and they wanted to eat, but it was decided that the actors would take lunch first so the crew could continue to set up the suicide shot. It was none of my business—none—but I couldn’t keep my nose
out of it. I decided I wasn’t going to lunch until the crew went to lunch. Very unionistic. An argument ensued and I stormed off to get into a car and leave. I said I was going to Beverly Hills to eat, they said I had only a half hour and couldn’t go that far, I said I was taking an hour, maybe even an hour and a half, so they told the Teamster assigned to my car not to drive me anywhere.

I was getting out of control at this point, and, holding my tiny dog, Tara, and wearing a floor-length black and white leather coat over a miniskirt, I must have looked like a court jester. I said, “Fine, the hell with you,” and went out to the street to hail a cab. Of course, one didn’t exist. What came by instead was, of all things, an army garbage truck. I stuck my thumb out and the driver picked me up. The assistant director started screaming, “Don’t you take her anywhere,” I was yelling, “Go guys, go, go, go,” and suddenly my departure turned into a great rollicking, hysterical chase, with a studio limo coming after the garbage truck with me and the dog in it. We pulled into the army base, closed the gates, and wouldn’t let the limo in.

Then came negotiations through the fence:

“Are you coming back?”

“No. It’s my lunch hour. I can do anything I want.”

“You gotta come back.”

“I’ll come back when you feed the crew.”

“The crew already went to lunch.”

“Then I’ll eat here with the guys.”

“No, no, you’ve gotta come back.”

“Then can the guys come and eat with us?”

Well, it turned out that these guys were Section Eight, genuinely crazy types (who else would pick me up?) who’d been let out on garbage detail as a kind of occupational therapy and had to get permission to go to lunch. Not only did I invite them, but anybody else they cared to invite as well. I went back to the location site, and as I was standing in line, getting my food, over this little ridge came what looked to me like maybe a hundred or a hundred and twenty guys in uniform, looking for lunch. I knew then I was in big trouble. And sure enough I got the call. “Sid Sheinberg wants to see you.”

I was driven over to his office on the Universal lot, fuming over a summons calculated to chill the boldest heart. Sheinberg wasn’t there, so while I waited around I touched everything on his desk, just like a four-year-old, too self-absorbed to be afraid. I liked his Mickey Mouse clock, one of those little Baby Bens, so I picked it up and put it into my pocket. Sheinberg finally came in and he started reading me the riot act. I said if he didn’t like it, he knew what he could do. He said, “You’re gonna have to not talk to me that way,” and I said, “Who are you, the dean?” Then he said something else that got me very angry and I said, “Go to hell. I don’t have to put up with you. Keep your two grand a week.” And I threw his Mickey Mouse clock at him (he caught it) and left.

When I got back to the set, I was told I was on suspension. I got into one of those little golf carts, got my stuff out of my dressing room and put it in my car, then I drove the cart as far as I could way out on the back lot, left it there, and threw away the key. Can you imagine? And then I didn’t work for a very long time.

Up until very recently that story was extremely painful to me. Every once in a while I’d run into a crew member from that time who’d start to tell it and I’d be mortified, I’d die. I’d even have a physical response to the memory, a tightening of my stomach. But now I’m starting to find it funny, almost as funny as the people who tell it.

The difference is that I know now what I didn’t know then, that I was a manic-depressive, crazy as a bedbug. Since I was diagnosed in 1982 and began taking Lithium, my whole life has dramatically changed. The medication has so stabilized me that incidents like that just aren’t in the realm of possibility anymore. Also, I’ve achieved the kind of respectability that I’ve always wanted. Part of the attraction of being president of the Screen Actors Guild, frankly, was that it conveyed the ultimate stamp of approval. “We accept you,” said the membership, the community I live and work in, “as a person who’s got enough wits about her to do the job.” So now it’s okay for me to say, “Yes, wasn’t I crazy in my youth.”

What’s still the toughest thing for me to accept is all
those articles that were written speculating about my abuse of drugs, which I’ve never used; that that kind of stuff would linger in newspaper morgues and magazine clip files has made me ache. I’d love to destroy every copy of every article that misquotes me, that maligns my mother, that may cause my son, Sean, even if it’s only for five minutes, to have to deal with nonsense instead of getting on with his life. But that’s not possible. I’ll never be that rich—maybe there isn’t anybody who’s that rich.

What I’ve done instead is follow a very sound philosophical approach that my sons’ father, John Astin, suggested. He would say, “If you keep living the truth of your life, that, not the mistakes or exaggerations, is what will endure. If you live your life in truth, the truth will out.” Sure there are times when I have trouble believing that, but for lack of a better way to proceed, that’s been working for me.

BOOK: Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke
13.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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