All about Anna's life...


     “I subscribe to the theory that says you're a product of all your experiences,” recently said Anna Patty Duke Pearce. And with a life that has been described as being close to one out of a Dickens novel, Anna Pearce, better known to the world as Patty Duke, has experienced more in her life than most heroines in classic novels do. Her story, as a woman, who has emerged from a person who was self-loathing and struggling with a mental illness and suicide attempts, to a mental health speaker and one of the most brilliant actresses of any generation, is one which could serve as an inspiration for most anyone.

    Anyone could look at her brilliant work in classic films such as The Miracle Worker, ground-breaking television like My Sweet Charlie, and the eternally fun-to-watch Patty Duke Show and Valley of the Dolls and think they know this actress known to the world as Patty Duke. But there is a lot more to her story than what is seen on the screen. The teenager, and later woman, who seemed to possess everything any American ever wanted: fame, fortune, and respectability, has lived a life far from most of the various characters she has played over the years. This is the story of a tortured young girl who beat all of the odds, to become one of the greatest survivors of our time. This is the story of Anna Patty Duke Pearce.

    Born in Bellevue hospital on December 14 1946 , Anna Marie Duke was the youngest of three children to be born to John and Frances Duke. The Duke’s lived on a modest income, with John working several jobs, most frequently as a cab driver. Anna’s recollections of her father are mostly positive. No matter what he was doing, he never went without a smile on his face. Frances , however, was suffering from severe undiagnosed depression. On top of her own mental disorder, Frances would frequently get fed up with John’s over-drinking and eventually kicked him out of the house around the time Anna was six.

    Anna Marie would rarely ever see her father again. But little did she know until many years later, that John would quit drinking and save up enough money to buy a “standing room only” ticket at Broadway’s The Playhouse Theatre, where The Miracle Worker, starring his twelve-year-old daughter, was playing. He watched his little girl brilliantly perform the role of Helen Keller on stage several times but because of his fear of interfering with her seemingly now-charming life, never did he go backstage.

    Anna didn’t start acting in The Miracle Worker until 1959, but it was around four years earlier, when her older brother, Raymond, was appearing in a play at the local YMCA, when talent managers John and Ethel Ross spotted him, thinking he had definite potential as an actor.

    The trio worked on several projects together, when one day they were casting a film about an orphanage in Upstate New York, and the Ross’s needed a little girl to play Raymond’s sister. Raymond suggested his sister and introduced the Ross’s to her and they immediately saw a spark in the precocious eight-year-old. There was only one problem: this little girl had a very New Yorkse accent, which would make it difficult to cast her in any type of role other than a New Yorker. The Ross’s wasted no time in correcting Anna Marie’s dialect and their work paid off, as Anna soon started landing jobs on shows which are now known as part of “the golden age of television.”

    Over the next few years Anna would appear along side some of the industries top performers such as Helen Hayes, Laurence Olivier, Gloria Vanderbilt and Richard Burton, among others. Her speaking voice was so good that she even played the part of the young British Catherine in Wuthering Heights on television.

    While still working steadily in television, feature film offers eventually began to pour in.

    She would appear, unbilled as an extra, in several films including I’ll Cry Tomorrow, starring Susan Hayward.

    She eventually made her film debut in 1958’s The Goddess, playing the title role at a young age before Kim Stanley took over as an adult.

    During the next two years she was also featured in The 4D Man, starring Robert Lansing, Country Music Holiday, with Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Happy Anniversary where David Niven and Mitzi Gaynor played her parents. But none of these roles in film would bring her to stardom the way the way the Broadway stage would.

    In the late 1950s, John Ross was looking through the theatrical magazine, Backstage, and spotted something about how a stage adaptation of the recent television hit, The Miracle Worker, about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan, might soon occur. Even though nothing at this point was definite about this project, Ross made it his life’s work to train Anna for the part of the young blind and deaf Helen Keller. He would do things such as blindfolding her to see if she could find her way around the room without site and moving the furniture around while she was blindfolded.

    This kind of intensive training would go on for over a year and finally it was Anna’s chance to audition for the part. Arthur Penn and Fred Coe, and show’s director and producer, were amazed at how well this twelve-year-old played the blind Helen Keller and eventually hired her for the part, opposite Anne Bancroft as Keller’s teacher, Annie Sullivan.

    The show opened in October of 1959 to some of the best reviews ever for a Broadway play. Walter Winchell called the show “An emotional earthquake” while The New York Daily News called it “a beautiful play, a lovely and loving play.”

    Anna and Bancroft, as the two leads, were also singled out by many of the critics as the heart and soul of the play, with their amazing performances.

    In 1960, the show won more accolades as Anna was given the Theater World Award as “Most Promising Newcomer” and the show itself received the Tony Award as the best play of the year.

    By 1960 Anna’s career had skyrocketed from being a bit player to becoming the youngest star on Broadway. While her career was reaching new heights, her home life, however, was suffering.

    Soon after The Miracle Worker became so successful, John and Ethel Ross spoke to Anna’s mother telling her that they felt they needed complete control of her daughter. They needed to make sure her life was acting and little else, and the only way they could continue to teach her the skills she would need as an actress was if Anna moved in with them full time. Frances , having little financial and emotional security of her own, agreed to let her youngest daughter live with the Ross’s.

    Anna took this personally and for the next several years she resented her mother for giving her up to the Ross’s while all she wanted to do was stay at home with her favorite person in the world: the woman who gave birth to her.

    Anna’s name had already been professionally changed to “Patty Duke” by the Ross’s, in a manner that would keep Anna occupied on her psychiatrist’s couch for many years to come.

     “Anna Marie is dead” Ethel once said to her. “You’re Patty now.” For a young girl who was extremely afraid of death, even having daily panic attacks for years about the subject, this news did not come easy to her. She was a child who did not know who she was anymore. She had no identity. The person Anna Marie, she thought, was now dead, and alive is this robot which belonged to the Ross’s, known as Patty.

    As Anna’s success continued, the Ross’s behavior would become more and more distorted and dysfunctional.

    John and Ethel wanted complete control over their little protégé. They told her what to eat, exactly what to say in an interview and even when her mother could come over to visit her.

    Frances , from time to time, did visit her daughter at the Ross’s apartment, but it was usually to do her daughter’s hand-laundry, once even being asked to use the servant’s door.

    They couldn’t bear for anyone to get in the way of their fortune, even the fortune’s mother. Before long, the drinking of the two managers rose heavily and they invited Anna along on their drinking sprees. At a very young age, the Ross’s began feeding Anna alcohol and prescription drugs. The drugs, most of them powerful anti-psychotic medicines, were used on Anna as uppers and downers. The uppers she took in the morning to make her work through the day and the downers were given at bedtime so she could get her rest.

    Infrequent sexual molestations, by both John and Ethel, began occurring. Many of these painful memories Anna would have to block out of her mind for many years to come.

    Her life was so controlled that she couldn’t even shut the bathroom door for more than ten minutes at a time. She still doesn’t know what the Ross’s thought she could be doing “At that point I didn’t even know that existed!” Anna, several years later, would jokingly admit in an interview to fellow child abuse survivor Oprah Winfrey.

    The Miracle Worker would eventually run for over seven-hundred performances, and almost two years on Broadway. Night after night, Anna would convince people she was blind and deaf, acting alongside Anne Bancroft, and later Suzanne Pleshette.

    When the doors eventually closed for The Miracle Worker, the Ross’s began looking for a play with a suitable role for Anna.  They found Isle of Children, which was to be done at the Cort Theatre on Broadway. The role of a young, dying girl was just the tour de force that the Ross’s had in mind for Anna, who was then fifteen. When the show opened in 1962, Anna received some of the best notices of her entire career, with one critic saying, “Patty Duke is not a child actress. She is an actress who happens to be a child at the moment.”

    Despite all of the great publicity the show was getting, it was a box office flop and closed after only eleven performances.

    Anna had little time to mourn her first professional failure, as The Miracle Worker was being turned into a feature film and she and Anne Bancroft were offered the roles they created on Broadway.

    Anna was thrilled to be working again alongside Fred Coe, Arthur Penn and one of her favorite people in the world, Anne Bancroft.

    Though not a financial success at the box office, The Miracle Worker, like the play, received glowing reviews and Anna won a Golden Globe Award as the Most Promising Newcomer of 1962. Soon after she won the Golden Globe, she learned that she had been nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress for her work in The Miracle Worker. The happiness of this news was short-lived, however. Ethel Ross told her that they would be going to the Oscars, as would Anna and their dog, but Anna’s mother and the rest of her family were not invited.

    Anna was devastated at this news. If she won, the Oscars could be the most important night of her life, and of course she wanted the most important person to be there, as well.

    Anna won the award against some stiff competition that year. Angela Lansbury, Mary Badham, Thelma Ritter and Shirley Knight were all nominated in this category. But, their brilliant performances, respectively, couldn’t hold a candle to Anna’s, according to the voting members of the academy. Anna Marie Patty Duke was now an Oscar-winner at age sixteen, the youngest person at that time to do so.

    Anna was about to break another show business record, when she became the youngest person, at age sixteen, to have a television show named after her.

    The Patty Duke Show was already in preparation before the Oscars and would debut in 1963, several months after the awards show. Future novelist Sidney Sheldon wrote a comedy pilot script involving two teenaged identical cousins. One being American, while the other English. Anna was to play both the roles of Patty and Cathy Lane, which would require her to work twice as hard, and twice the number of hours, as their were no child labor laws at that time in New York, so she could be worked all day on the set if that’s how long they needed her.

    Besides co-starring with herself, Jean Byron and William Schallert were hired to play “Patty’s” parents, Paul O’Keefe was Ross (by this time not exactly her favorite name) Patty’s mischievous little brother and Eddie Applegate, Patty’s longtime boyfriend.

    Before long, the success of this ABC show, geared mostly at teenagers, was enormous. Every teenaged girl in America wanted to be popular like pert and pretty Patty and smart and sophisticated like studious Cathy. They tuned in by the millions every week to see what kind of trouble the two genetically unexplainable look-alikes would get themselves into. By the first year, it was already a top twenty hit in the Neilson Ratings and Anna received her first Emmy nomination for her work in the show.

    Patty Duke’s life was shown on TV as being as close to perfect as one could get. On television, her biggest problems were wondering who she would take to the prom or if her father would buy her a new dress for it. Things at home, however, were not the way they were in her fictitious television family.

    By this time the Ross’s were bigger control freaks than ever thus making her more and more alienated from her mother and brother and sister. When she was only seventeen, she found out that her father, whom she hadn’t seen in about ten years, had died, alone in his rooming house. Fifty-year-old John Patrick Duke had only two things on him at the time of his death: a letter written by his son Raymond and an autographed picture of Patty Duke.

    The Ross’s allowed Anna to go to her father’s funeral, but only she’d go to the television studio, to be “made up” as Patty Lane and attend her father’s funeral that way. She wasn’t even allowed to grieve for her father as his daughter, Anna Marie. She had to do it as the famous actress, Patty Duke.

    The Ross’s allowed little time for Anna to grieve the death of father as The Patty Duke Show was continuing to be one of the most popular series’ of its day. Before long, board games, paper dolls, storybooks, puzzles, dolls, leather wallets and clothes, among other things bearing the name Patty Duke, were produced. Anna even recorded a hand full of albums, though she felt she could not sing. She scored a hit with her first single, “Don’t Just Stand There,” which reached the top ten on the Billboard charts. Anna had no say as to what she was singing or even weather or not she would sing.   It was the Ross’s who said she would sing, so sing she did.

    One thing the Ross’s couldn’t control was Anna’s newly found interest in men. She had never been allowed to date before, but that didn’t stop her from being interested in the older assistant director on the show, Harry Falk.

    Their relationship began with flirting and later blossomed into a full-fledged romance.

    In order to try to keep Anna away from Harry, who they were afraid might steal their prized possession; they managed to have the show moved from New York to California in its third and final season.

    This tactic that the Ross’s come up with didn’t work, as Harry soon followed them to Los Angeles and their relationship progressed even further.

    In the midst of this Anna shot her first film in three years, Billie, a movie that was shot in only fifteen days about a teenaged tomboy who wants to run track alongside the boys. Anna had to cut her hair, bleach it (badly) and even sing on the movie’s soundtrack. All things Anna did not want to do, but had no control over.

    After Billie wrapped production and the last season was underway, Anna decided to finally leave the Ross’s and move into her own apartment. Soon thereafter, she finally married Harry and they moved into a home in Beverly Hills . At first Anna tried, for the first time in her life, to play the grownup married lady, but was ill-equipped at doing so. By this time the depression that had started a few years earlier had become increasingly worse and she would take to her bed for days at a time.

    Matters were made even worse when in 1966, after one hundred and four episodes, ABC decided to cancel The Patty Duke Show. Part of Anna was relived, since she always had thought the series was dumb and beneath her talents.

    When Anna married Harry, she went to cash in the savings bonds she had earned over the years for working, and found out that very little of the money, which should’ve equaled about a million dollars, was left. The Ross’s had spent it all on the good times: the vacations, the booze and the drugs.

    Soon after her show wrapped, Harry was forced to commit Anna to a mental hospital because of her wild highs and suicidal lows. Anna was humiliated to be in the hospital but eventually “acted” her way out by putting on her best behavior.

    After being released from the hospital, Anna and Harry learned that Twentieth Century Fox was about to cast the film adaptation of the nation’s hottest book, Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls.

    Anna wanted the part of the pill-crazed, booze-swigging Neely O’Hara so badly she could taste it. The only problem was that the producers wanted her to audition because it would be the kind of adult role that people were not used to seeing her in. Anna was highly insulted, but eventually agreed to the audition and won the part.

    Filming Valley of the Dolls was mostly a miserable experience for Anna. Not because she didn’t get along with her co-stars, but because she did not get along with the film’s director, Mark Robson.

    After seeing the movie for the first time, Anna was humiliated because she thought she gave an awful performance. And unfortunately, most of the critics at the time agreed. The film, and her performance were lambasted in the newspapers and it looked as if her career was over. Despite the negative reviews, Valley of the Dolls went on to become one of the top-grossing films of the year and over thirty years later survives as one of the biggest cult classics of all-time.

    Anna didn’t work much after Valley was released in late 1967, but the following summer was offered the lead role, by her Miracle Worker producer Fred Coe; in his upcoming independent film Me, Natalie.  

    During the shooting of Me, Natalie in New York , Anna and Harry decided to end their marriage after four years, which in the middle of shooting caused Anna to attempt suicide. She passed out and had to have her stomach pumped, but returned to the set the next day and continued to give one of the best performances of her career, in a role which eventually won her a Golden Globe as Best Actress.

    Me, Natalie failed to make much noise at the box office and despite Anna’s wonderful performance, and Al Pacino’s feature film debut, the movie has been largely forgotten in the years since.

    With the commercial failure of Me, Natalie and the criticism she suffered over Valley of the Dolls, Anna decided to work in television again.

    The role of Marlene Chambers in My Sweet Charlie had been first offered to her a few years earlier when it was to be mounted on Broadway. She was in the hospital at the time and had to let the part go, but when it was time for the television version to be cast, Patty Duke was the first name to be mentioned for the part and she quickly and enthusiastically accepted the role of the uneducated, unmarried and pregnant runaway girl who hides in a Texas home with a black New York lawyer. Despite their different racial and educational backgrounds the two eventually fall in love, platonically, with each other until one of them is shot and dies.

    My Sweet Charlie received the highest ratings ever for a network movie and Anna won her first Emmy, as the first actress in history to have won the award for a TV movie.

    Charlie was so successful that it even opened in movie houses across the country several months after its debut on television.

    Her career was on a high, but her personal life was at an all-time low.

    She had found out that John Ross had died of a heart attack in Palm Springs . Despite her differences with him, she felt this was another father she didn’t get to say goodbye to.

    That same year she met and began dating actor/singer Desi Arnaz, Jr., The son of television pioneers Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

    At the time they begun dating, Desi was seventeen and Anna, already a divorced woman, was about five years his senior. Ball did not accept their relationship and later put a stop to it.

    To add to all of this, the relationship was on the cover of ever tabloid and fan magazine in the country. The public couldn’t get enough of the whirlwind romance between two of America ’s best known people and this also put a strain on the relationship.

    Desi and Anna eventually split up and soon thereafter Anna begun having a secret love affair with John Astin, who was best known as Gomez on The Addams Family. Anna became pregnant but didn’t want to tell people the baby was John’s because he had gone back to his wife, whom he was separated from at the time of the affair, and three children.

    Anna was again the top tabloid headliner as most people assumed the child was Desi’s. Anna kept quiet about the whole matter, which she later deeply regretted.

    At this time, Anna, being Catholic and all, was ashamed of being unmarried and pregnant and eloped with a man who had sublette her apartment in Los Angeles while she was in Chicago doing a play. The marriage between Anna and Michael Tell lasted only thirteen days, as she later had it annulled due to the lack of consummation in the marriage.

    After Sean was born, her erratic behavior cooled down a bit and for a while she felt she was on an

even keel.

    Two weeks after the birth, she shot another TV movie, If Tomorrow Comes, and soon thereafter flew to Boston to shoot another one entitled Two on a Bench. Her co-stars in Bench were Ted Bessell, Alice Ghostly and John Astin. Anna and Astin rekindled their relationship and soon John realized that Sean was his. John adopted Sean and the two married, at John’s parent’s home in Maryland in 1972 and after the marriage, Anna gave birth to their second child, Mackenzie Alexander Astin, in 1973.

    Anna changed her professional name to Patty Duke Astin and before long, John’s three boys from his previous marriage, David, Tom and Alan, all moved into their Westwood home and Anna adopted them, too. In her late 20’s Anna was already a mother to five children and the strain put upon her due to the stress of that situation, plus her yet undiagnosed mental illness, made things pretty unbearable in the Astin home much of the time.

    As Anna later said about her marriage to John “There were wonderful times, but again, I was not yet ready to be married to anyone.”

    John, Anna and the kids often toured the country, with mom and dad starring in several theater productions as A Shot in the Dark, My Fat Friend and Rattle of a Simple Man.

    Their work together also expanded to television where they guest-starred together on several of the era’s most popular shows, like Police Woman, Marcus Welby and Insight. The two were also frequent guests on such games shows as Tattletales and Celebrity Sweepstakes.

    Anna also continued to do work on her own.

    Nightmare came in 1974, opposite Richard Crenna. The dreadful television sequel, Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby was in 1976 and that same year she co-starred with an all-star cast that included Richard Jordan, Charles Durning and Henry Fonda in Captains and the Kings. This epic ten-hour miniseries was extremely successful and later won Anna her second Emmy award as the woman modeled after Rose Kennedy who aged from roughly sixteen to eighty.

    More work in television movies followed over the next few years with films such as Killer on Board; Rosetti and Ryan; Curse of the Black Widow (her personal least-favorite) and The Storyteller.

    1978 brought the death of Ethel Ross who she had seen infrequently over the years since John’s death, but unlike him “there was a bit of resolution with her” before she died.

    The same year Anna was nominated for two additional Emmys, for the movies Having Babies 3 and A Family Upside Down, which also starred Fred Astaire and Helen Hayes She also had a small part in the feature film The Swarm, directed by Irwin Allen.

    The rest of the 70s’s brought more game show and television movie appearances, with the highlight being 1979’s The Miracle Worker remake on NBC.  This time, a dream had come true and Anna took on the role of Annie Sullivan, while Melissa Gilbert played Helen Keller. The movie won wonderful ratings and critical notices and wound up winning the Emmy award as Outstanding Dramatic Special for the year. Anna, too, won an Emmy for the project, which to this day remains her favorite acting award.

    Before and After was another tour de force for Anna in 1979, where she played an overweight housewife and mother, who loses her husband due to the fact that she’s heavy. She decides to fight back and eventually loses the weight. Once again, Anna’s dramatic skills were put to the test and she succeeded in making the viewer believe in this woman’s determination and spirit.

    Anna worked hard in 1980 scoring with her roles in the TV films Mom, the Wolfman and Me; The Babysitter, and earned additional Emmy nominations for The Women’s Room and the daytime television special The Girl on the Edge of Town.

    Many of these roles that she had excelled so well in had something in common: they were mentally disturbed women.

    From her heartbreaking role as an alcoholic wife in The Babysitter to her gut-wrenching performance as unhappy housewife in 1950s suburbia in The Women’s Room, Anna displayed a knack for exploring the darker side of the human spirit in her work. Little did people know at the time, that Anna still often felt this way at home, where her mental illness had become increasingly worse.

    Frequent blowups and suicide attempts continued to ensue and Anna felt she was continuously losing a battle with a demon she couldn’t identify.

    Though still working frequently in top-notch television dramas such as The Violation of Sarah McDavid and Something So Right, Anna felt increasingly out of control about her own behavior.

    By this time she had already been off and on seeing a therapist for a number of years named Harold Arlen. Arlen and her husband John joined Anna in continuing to search for a cure for whatever it was that made Anna behave the way she frequently did at home.

    In 1982, Anna was working on her People’s Choice Award-winning role in her first return to a weekly television series, It Takes Two, with Richard Crenna, Billie Bird, Helen Hunt, Anthony Edwards and Della Reese. During this time, Anna tore the nodes on her vocal chords and so she could continue to work, a doctor gave her a shot of Cortisone, which did give Anna her voice back, but it also caused another manic attack at home, as well as sleepless nights and cruelty to her children.

    After learning about the Cortisone shot, Dr. Arlen finally diagnosed Anna with Manic Depression (also known as Bi-Polar Disorder).  At last the unknown demon without a name had a name, like “Wawa” for Helen Keller, and better yet, it had a treatment.  Anna soon began taking the metallic element, Lithium, in order to not cure, since there is no cure, but soothe her mental disorder, keeping it under control.  “No more crazy highs, no more suicidal lows. It’s given me a life!” Anna later said about Lithium and her successful treatment.

    It wasn’t too late for Anna Duke Astin to begin the recovery after all those years of mental distress and thinking she was genuinely a bad person, but unfortunately it was too late for the Astin marriage.

    Around the time of her diagnosis, Anna and John just couldn’t live together anymore and decided to legally separate. After a brief reconciliation in 1984, the two decided to divorce the following year, ending a union that had lasted roughly a dozen years and had been through more ups and downs than most other five marriages.

    Instead of dwelling on the divorce, Anna instead continued to delve into her acting work.

    She appeared as Martha Washington in two miniseries’ in 1984 (Emmy nomination) and 1986. In 1985 she co-guest-starred with her son Mackenzie (Sean had made his acting debut with his mom in 1981 on the after school special Please Don’t Hit Me, Mom) on the popular night time soap, Hotel, and she dropped the “Astin” from her professional name. Once again she returned to the world as Patty Duke with the television series Hail to the Chief, in which she played the first woman president of the United States . Despite ratings that soared through the roof, the series was canceled after only seven episodes due to controversy.

    Anna had no time to mourn the cancellation of her latest series, as she was off to Fort Benning , Georgia to begin work on a TV movie called A Time to Triumph, about a woman who enters the army in order to support her three children and ill husband.

    During pre-production at Fort Benning , Anna had to have a cursory course as to what it’s really like to go through basic training in the army. One of the men assigned to teach her was Sgt. Michael Pearce.

    “We had some laughs,” Anna later recounted “and then it was time for him to go back to his battalion.” But Anna quickly realized something after the picture wrapped and she was in her hotel room ready to go home to California the next morning.

    “Holy shit!” she sat up on her hotel bed. “I’m in love with Mike Pearce?!”

    Mike was separated at the time from his wife and had two young daughters, Raelene and Charlene, all living in Georgia .

    Mike eventually moved to Los Angeles , with Anna, and lived in her Westwood home with Sean and Mack and made it official on March 15, 1986 .

    Again, more work on television followed, including the short-lived 1987 series Karen’s Song on Fox and Fight for Life with Jerry Lewis.

    Working on television and being a mom and new wife were not the only things on Anna’s agenda in 1987.

    That year she published her autobiography, Call Me Anna, for the first time publicly revealing her inner-most secrets which, up until that point, only her family and closest friends were aware of. She also announced that she was a manic depressive who had found a happy ending.

    The book rose to the top of the New York Times charts and begun Anna on the journey as mental health spokeswoman, something she continues to do until this day.

    Besides speaking about mental health, Anna also voiced her opinions about other social issues, such as equal rights for women (winning the first ever Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Democratic Action), AIDS (elected AID for AIDS Woman of the Year) and her union, the Screen Actor’s Guild. She was so heavily involved with SAG, that in 1985, she became only the second woman in history to be elected president of the fifth-largest labor union in the United States . She wound up serving two terms as president and resigned from the position in 1988.

    In 1989, Mike and Anna decided on a new way to celebrate their union, when they adopted their son Kevin, nicknamed “Kevin from Heaven.”

    The 90s started off with Anna starring on stage in Beverly Hills in Meetings on the Porch with Susan Clark and Carrie Snodgrass, and playing herself in the TV adaptation of Call Me Anna. Ari Meyers and Jenny Robertson played Anna at younger stages in her life and Anna later took over when she reached her 30’s.

    Anna’s brother, Raymond, played the part of their father in what Anna calls “one very small, but very powerful scene.” Through her brother playing him, Anna was able to have one last visit with the father who she had mourned for all of those years.

    Response to Anna and her mental illness was overwhelming when the movie originally aired on ABC in late 1990. The hotline number for The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, which Anna gave out before the ending credits, was flooded with phone calls from people, who through Anna’s story, recognized that they, or a loved one, suffered from this horrible illness and now wanted to seek help.

    Writing the book, playing herself in the movie, and speaking about mental health, has made it possible for Anna to help others, as well as herself in understanding that those who are mentally ill are not alone, and that there is help out there for those who want it.

    Bantam, the publishers of Call Me Anna, approached Anna to write another book, this time specifically concerning her mental illness. A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness was published in 1992. Anna’s story is told in alternating chapters and other facts are told by medical reporter Gloria Hochman in the other chapters.

    Besides a new book in 1992, Anna had a lot of other work riding on her plate.  She starred in three highly successful TV films (Last Wish; Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive and A Killer Among Friends) one feature film (Prelude to a Kiss, opposite Meg Ryan and Alec Baldwin) and in a wedding: her son Sean’s to his long-time girlfriend Christine.

    She also worked on uprooting her family from Los Angeles to Northern Idaho , where Mike is originally from. Mike, Kevin and Anna bought an eighty acre ranch with lots of farm animals, and enjoy living there more than any other place they’ve ever lived.

    Anna has found it easy to commute to television sets, while working in Idaho, as she has had roles in the following television films: Family of Strangers and Cries From the Heart (both with Melissa Gilbert); No Child of Mine (with Tracey Nelson) and one of the highest-rated and critically acclaimed movies of 1993, A Matter of Justice, alongside Martin Sheen.

    In 1993, her beloved mother, Frances, passed away. Frances had been diagnosed by Dr. Arlen in 1980 as being clinically depressed and was later treated successfully. Anna and her eventually came to a resolution about her miserable childhood and Anna realized her mother only wanted the best for her daughter by giving her up to the Ross’s. Frances thought they could give her the kind of glamorous life that she never could. Anna was able to close the chapter of her life with her mother, the way she was unable to do with her father almost thirty years earlier.

    Two years after her mother’s death, Anna took another stab at a TV series with producing (under the name Anna Pearce) and starring in Amazing Grace, filmed right in Idaho .  But like her last few attempts at weekly television, the run was short-lived.

    Over the next several years a few life-long dreams of Anna’s were fulfilled. In 1996, 1999 and 2002 she starred in films for The Hallmark Hall of Fame, all of which were well received, and in 2002, not long after making her musical theater debut in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies in Los Angeles , she was hired to play Aunt Eller in the Broadway revival of Oklahoma ! Starring in a Broadway musical had been a dream of Anna’s ever since she was working on Broadway more than forty years earlier and finally the dream had come true. Anna admitted to a reporter in 2002 that she had recently stood in the middle of Times Square and recently said to herself: “I’m back.”

    Life during the years married to Mike, and living in Idaho , had been pretty good, but they haven’t been a bed of roses.

    In 1998, their daughter, Raelene Pearce, died tragically in a car accident at age twenty-two. It was a tragedy no parent ever expects and the years since have been a time of healing and accepting for the Pearce’s.

    September 2002 brought a near-tragedy when Anna was in the barn applying horse spray to one their fillies and the horse had an attack and kicked her in the head. Thankfully, Mike heard Anna’s scream and came to her side and got help right away. She wound up suffering from a near-fatal head concussion and skull fracture. She was in the ICU unit of their local Idaho hospital for over a week and was eventually well enough to come home for what, six weeks later, would become a full, miraculous recovery.

    Today, almost fifty years after her acting debut, Anna Marie Patty Duke Pearce is still going strong. She is a happy, wife, mother, mental spokesperson and actress who has starred in about a dozen feature films and over seventy movies for television. She is one of the few stars who has survived child stardom and went on to become a successful and respected adult actress.

    When recently talking about her life, Anna has said,  “I am finally, most of the time, happy with the product. I now think it is OK to be Patty Duke."  What Anna doesn’t seem to always realize about herself is that she’s far better than OK.  She’s astonishing.

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