I’ve been struggling with Mondayitis while reading this book, it’s so engrossing it’s been really hard to turn off and read something else so I’ve been forced to finish reading Call Me Anna before picking up anything else. Reading another book at the same time is nigh on impossible for me, I can do it with other books.
Patty Duke was born Anna Marie Duke in 1946, introduced to her brother’s acting agents a few years later she found them taking over her life and becoming surrogate parents but without any love coming from them. Her parents separated when she was six and both of her parents were devalued and made to feel outcasts by these agents, John and Ethel Ross. Duke suffered much emotional angst due to their treatment and I can’t help wondering if they are the reason she’s such a good actor.
I remember Patty Duke from watching reruns of The Patty Duke Show where she played herself and her look alike cousin, and in one episode she also played her other look alike cousin. I can’t imagine the amount of talent she must have in order to play three different people who all look alike. As it turns out I also remember her from the 1979 movie The Miracle Worker about the time Anne Sullivan taught Helen Keller. Duke played Sullivan in this movie and I thought it was pretty good but she also played Helen Keller on stage and again in the 1962 movie of the same name, people think the original movie was much better. Helen Keller was born in 1880 and became deaf and blind due to an illness 19 months later, at about the age of six or seven her parents brought in Anne Sullivan as a governess.
This book talks about her time with the Rosses, how they trained her and brought her up to be completely humble. It is candid about her emotional problems and the number of challenges this provided to her for her work and her colleagues, husbands and children. In it she talks about working with Anne Bancroft on The Miracle Worker play and also in the movie. Duke also discusses quite candidly the many suicide attempts and her diagnosis of manic depression, apparently she became a different person when she started taking lithium. She also discusses her parents in detail and their temper, she got her mother onto medication in the 1980s after she herself was on medication and that changed her mother dramatically.
It has been an incredibly hard life for her and it is an incredibly engrossing read. Together with Kenneth Turan she has turned out a book that could be used as a textbook to help train psychiatrists to diagnose other people as she leaves little to the imagination.
I loved this book and would recommend it for anyone who likes to read about the movies or emotionally challenged people. There is swearing, there are scenes of violence but there is a happy ending.