Ryal McMurry
  Working with Anna on Judging Amy, 2004





Recently, I moved to California to pursue a career in the entertainment industry; I have been working as an extra in films and television.  I was booked to work Judging Amy.  I knew from Billy's posts that Anna would be guest starring, but in case I wouldn't be in a scene with her, I tried not to get my hopes up.


As filming began, I was in the holding area when I heard laughter and instantly, I knew it was hers!  My heart started beating fast.  Then, Anna walked by and I was kind of staring.  She smiled at me and I smiled back.


I only filmed one scene but it was with Anna and Tyne Daly.  What a treat it was to watch those two professional and brilliant actresses work.  At one point, there seemed to be a problem, and the actor I was working with turned to me and said, "Well, if anyone can fix it, those two brilliant actresses can.  It took me a minute, but that's Patty Duke Astin!"  I laughed because I hadn't heard her called that in some time, but I agreed with him and professed my love for Anna.


While we were working, Anna had had issues with her glasses.  Before the first take, she looked around and told everyone, "I'm putting my glasses in my purse.  Remind me when I ask where they are later."  She went on to say that the other day, everyone spent a good deal of time searching for them.  People kept handing things to her and she was like, "I can't see it!"


Another incident occurred later in the taping.  Anna kept a bottle of water next to a file cabinet (in the Department of Children and Families set), and between takes, she would drink from it.  Well, at one point, the bottle disappeared and--I swear, I did not take it--Tyne yelled out, "Your actors need water!"  There were several bottles nearer to us, and someone grabbed one for her.  She drank out of it while someone handed Tyne the other bottle of water.  Tyne just placed it on the file cabinet where Anna's had been.  When Anna turned around, she said, "Oh, it was right there in front of me."  Tyne explained to her that it was a new one and Anna replied, "You're trying to Gaslight me!"  I about died laughing!


It was so much fun to watch her work, although it took pretty much the whole day for me to work up the courage to speak to her.  First of all, I didn't want to disturb her between takes because she was preparing.  But after we wrapped, she walked by and I called out to her.  She came over and I introduced myself and said that I was a member of the online Patty Duke community.  She instantly lit up.  We shook hands and I told her what a thrill it was to finally meet her.  I really couldn't tell her all that I wanted to, or all the things I thought about telling her all day long.  But we chatted briefly and then said goodbye.  As she was walking away, she turned around and said, "If you go online, tell Billy 'Hi' for me!"


The scene in which we worked together is Anna's last scene, when she goes to meet Maxine at the office.  As I watch it, I remember being there and how brilliantly Anna did the scene.  With each take, we were all brought to tears by her performance.  At one point, after yelling "Cut," the director stood up and said, "Ladies and Gentleman, Patty Duke."  Everyone applauded her, and I heard many people say, "Now there's an actress!"


An added bonus for me was getting to watch the episode on TV.  In the moment where Anna and Tyne Daly walk into the room, I walk behind them in the opposite direction.  I am wearing a green and black jacket, and pretty much all you see of me is the back of my head (my hair is reddish looking).  There are two of us walking past, and I am closest to Tyne and Anna.  It's wonderful to be able to pause the tape and see the back of my head right there in a scene with Patty Duke!