Yesterday I read that Patty Duke died at the age of 69. I was shocked. I grew up with Patty Duke. Not literally, but she was famous even back when I was in Junior High. I'm three years older than she was, and she was starring on Broadway in "The Miracle Worker," at the age of 8.
I was attending Saturday acting classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I wanted to be an Actress and here was this 8 year old kid starring on Broadway. I was jealous.
Back in the mid-1950's the American Academy of Dramatic Arts was in a small building on 52nd Street near many of the Broadway Theaters. Now it has expanded into AADA.edu, a multi-campus University, but they still offer a Saturday teen program.
The Saturday morning classes I attended let out at 1 pm which was just in time to walk to nearby theaters and buy Standing Room tickets to shows. Often if the seats were not sold out, or someone with a ticket didn't show up, the standees could find an available seat during intermission.
I don't remember if I saw "The Miracle Worker" on a standing room ticket, but I remember seeing the original cast with Patty Duke in the starring role in one of those Saturday matinees.
I wasn't jealous anymore. I was in AWE. She was amazing! If you've seen the movie, you know what a difficult role that is and she was 8 or 9 years old and doing it six nights a week and twice on Saturdays.
Her fame grew on TV in the "Patty Duke Show," which ran for four years in the mid-1960's. The plot was silly, of course, where she played her own twin cousin, but she carried the show until she was too grown up for teenage hijinks.
Patty Duke kept working in plays, movies, and touring companies. I saw her in San Francisco in "Wicked," where she played Madame Morrible, the Head Mistress of the school the two witches attended. I still have the Playbill, which is dated back in 2009. I was surprised it was that long ago because it is still fresh in my mind.
Patty had "featured" billing with her name in bold type just below a list of the other cast members. She wasn't the star anymore, but she was a true "trooper."
Here's a link to her website, which I just discovered through a Google Search. RIP Anna "Patty" Duke. You still have a lot of fans who will miss you.