Even though I was a child when I first read Patty Duke's autobiography, Call Me Anna, it was a lot to
take in. However, I could appreciate the life she had led even at my youngest, as I understood her
desperate need for wanting her mother. Anna shared humor and sadness, and opened her life to complete
strangers in order to finally tell her side of the story. As difficult as it was to absorb her words, think about
how difficult it must have been to write them. Not only is Anna an acting legend, she is a strong human
being with more strength and endurance than most men could ever dream of having. This book is one that
will keep you "at the edge of your seat, and not wanting to blink for fear you will miss something" kind of
story. It made me both laugh and cry out loud.
Call Me Anna is a gripping tale of Anna's life with Manic-Depression and the highs and lows she has
endured. She didn't understand exactly what was happening to her, however, she knew that something
was wrong. Even as a child, Anna suffered from anxiety attacks. Overnight, she went from being
Anna Marie Duke to Patty Duke. This was where she says "what I didn't know was that that was the tip of
the ice berg, the beginning of the little by little murder of Anna Marie Duke and the rebuilding of the
Frankenstein's monster that became Patty Duke". Her managers John and Ethel Ross gave her the name
"Patty" because Ethel felt that "Anna Marie wasn't perky enough".
Anna shares with her readers the journey of the extreme highs to the debilitating lows. It is trip that
one can't imagine unless one has experienced it personally. It is hard to understand and fully grasp how
Anna felt and what she went through. The Rosses controlled her every move. They introduced her to a
life that, as she explains, "had they not crossed my path, the likelihood of my becoming an actress was slim,
and the joy of that far outweighs any of the pain".
The highs and lows of her illness made Anna say and do things that she didn't have control over. She
struggled to deal with getting out of bed on a daily basis. The highs made her feel like she was invincible,
but the lows kept her in bed for days at a time. She cried endlessly and didn't know how to make her
troubles go away. She never told anyone what was going on in the Ross home. She has said she was
"more afraid of the Rosses than [she] was of God".
With all due respect to the Rosses, they did start out with the best of intentions towards Anna, but her
rising popularity and fame distorted their attitude and way of living. They just didn't know how do deal
with it. Anna's enormous fame soon provided for a lifestyle that the Rosses were not accustomed to. They
were eccentric people and perfectionists. They drilled Anna for certain roles until she got the part down
just right. She was told to practice and practice, over and over again. But it all payed off as she kept
getting picked for starring roles and leads in plays.
Anna started her career by doing commercials and went on to play Helen Keller in the Broadway hit
"The Miracle Worker." She played young Helen who was deaf, blind and mute. She later starred in her
own television series, "The Patty Duke Show," a show in which she co-starred with herself by playing
identical cousins, Patty and Cathy Lane. While doing the show, Anna said she felt it was like "playing two
halves that equaled less than one." However, she loved the cast and formed life-long relationships with
them. She has made countless other movies and television appearances, and has won many awards for her
work. Anna is an Academy Award-winning actress, former President of The Screen Actors Guild, a wife,
mother, and grandmother.
Call Me Anna is the poignant truth of Anna's life. She certainly didn't hold back and didn't sugar coat
the details. As harsh as it was, it was her life. I hope everyone who hasn't had the opportunity to read this
remarkable account will go out and purchase it.
Since 1975, Anna has been my mentor, role model and teacher. Knowing her worked for me then,
and still works for me now. She has made me realize that there is room for forgiveness in my life. My
favorite quote is from her. In Anna's words, "It's toughest to forgive ourselves, so it's probably best to start
with other people. It's almost like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, forgiving others, you really do get to
the point where you can forgive yourself."