Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke
Written by: Patty Duke and Kenneth Turan
Published by Bantam Books, 1988
320 pages, illustrated
Price: $7.99 USD (Mass Market paperback)
Intended Audience: General Adult
Patty Duke has been famous since she was known as a gifted child star, in fact she was the youngest actor to win an Oscar. She won it for her role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. She also became the youngest actor to have a prime-time television series bearing her own name. What the public never saw (until this book) was a young tortured girl, named Anna Marie Duke. Her life changed forever when she was seven years old. Her tyrannical managers stripped her of just about everything she had that was familiar. The started with her name. They deprived her of her family and friends. Every word she spoke was programmed, and every action she made closely monitored and criticized. This young girl was fed prescription drugs and alcohol. They taught her to lie to get work, and they relentlessly drilled her to win roles. In her autobiography, Call Me Anna, Patty Duke refers to this as the nightmare.
What came out of the nightmare was the show business legend, Patty Duke who is still searching for the child called Anna. Before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder she won three Emmy Awards, married three times, divorced three times, and almost had her career ruined by her starring role in The Valley of the Dolls. During this time period she was notorious for her wild spending sprees, uncontrollable temper, and unstable relationships.
Later her long hidden illness was diagnosed, which led to the beginning of an amazing recovery. This book is an American success story. It grew out of a bizarre and desperate struggle to survive. This story is told by the wife, mother, and political activist herself. She became president of the Screen Actors Guild, and finally a happy and fulfilled woman.
Within the pages of this book the reader learns of the chaotic home, the alcoholic father, and the depressed and often suicidal mother which the author grew up with. She was both emotionally and physically abused, and was abandoned by her parents. Anna A.K.A. Patty was not allowed to be a child. She was treated as an object and by her mid-teens was sexually abused by an authority figure in her life. Many of the things she discusses in this book sound dissociative in nature.
Not only does this hold the story of a broken home but there are tails of Duke’s relationship with other celebrities. For example, the hate she held toward Lucy Ball for dating Desi. There’s even a part about how Frank Sinatra tried to save Patty. She writes about working with many famous people. Her story of working with Judy Garland is a great read. There is information in here about Patty’s experiences with “The Miracle Worker”, “The Patty Duke Show”, and “The Valley of the Dolls” among other experiences in Hollywood.
This book is a good read for anyone interested in bipolar disorder, show business in general, psychology, and of course Patty Duke. For some it took away the shame of needing psychotropic medication. Patty Duke has helped tremendously in taking away some of the stigma associated with mental illness through her writing. This book was written because the mother of Anna Marie Duke told her to tell her story, and so she did, in these 320 pages and then later in a second book, called “A Brilliant Madness”.