Being Patty Duke
Patty Duke was the first celebrity to admit to having mental health issues, a bold move at the time. I suffer from the same illness, and it was Patty, during an interview, who made me feel I wasn't alone.
From Anna to Patty
Anna Marie Duke wanted to follow in her brother Ray's acting footsteps, and after meeting with Ray's agents, they signed her on. They also changed her name, and Anna soon became "Patty Duke", easily getting roles in commercials and tv. It wasn't until she was 15 years old and starred in the Broadway version of Helen Keller that her star really began to shine.The following year she acted with Anne Bancroft in the movie, The Miracle Worker, and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Patty/Anna Marie had made it, a bona-fide star.
Patty continued to make several successful movies and had her own tv show, but the smile she gave the world hid deep pain and secrets. Her first three marriages were tumultuous, and at one point she found herself unmarried and pregnant. Patty's star was still bright, but Anna Marie appeared to be spiraling downward, with deepening depression and extreme mood swings. It was during one of these manic episodes that she married second husband, Michael Tell. She had been distraught after a break-up with Desi Arnaz, Jr., and turned to Tell for solace. The marriage lasted 13 days, in which time son Sean was conceived. The marriage was annulled.
Picking Up The Pieces
In 1982 Patty finally sought medical help for her worsening depression and rages. She was diagnosed with manic depression, or as it's better known today, bi-polar illness. bi-polar illness. In 1987 she wrote her autobiography "Call Me Anna", recounting these bleak times. Patty's experience with her illness made her realize there were others out there suffering as she had. She also knew she had the means to reach them via her celebrity status.
Advocate for Mental Health
Knowing the stigma of any mental illness in the world of Hollywood, she bravely took it upon herself to let everyone know of her journey down that dark path and back up into the sunlight. She gave countless interviews and lobbied Congress for funding to research mental illness treatments. With medical reporter Gloria Hochman, she wrote another book, "A Brilliant Madness", which describes signs, symptoms and available treatments. Patty also reached out to her fans on facebook and twitter, passing along advice and hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Patty Duke was just a stage name to Anna Marie. To her family and friends, she was always Anna, and that's the way she wanted it. Her death on March 29 was a shock to many, but she will never be forgotten for her all she accomplished in her life. Not only a talented actress and advocate for mental health, she was a political supporter of nuclear disarmament, AIDS research and treatment, the ERA, and many other just causes. Her eldest son Sean would like to raise enough money through a crowdfunding campaign to start a Patty Duke Mental Health Initiative, thus continuing his mother's legacy to raise awareness of mental health issues. Patty Duke will be remembered not only for her acting talent, but for bravely baring her heart, soul and mind to the world for the sake of others. That just might be her best work, even without an Oscar.
For more on Patty: http://www.biography.com/people/patty-duke-9542536
Photo 1: en.wikipedia.org
Photo 2: zimbio.com