Having grown up watching her TV show, when I booked Patty Duke to ring the bell at the market I was thrilled. Like many of us, I have seen The Miracle Worker, for which she won an Oscar, many times. And of course, I’ve seen her in many other films and TV shows over the years. But as fun as I imagined the day might be, I never dreamed it could be as special as it really was.
Patty Duke (whose real name is Anna) is still absolutely beautiful, and she and her husband Mike are two of the most genuine, loving, fun people you’ll ever meet. The couple met when Anna was filming A Time to Triumph, the true story of a woman helicopter pilot. Mike, who was a drill sergeant at the time, was hired as a consultant to teach her how to salute, march, etc. and in the process they fell in love. They have been married for 28 years, and they both exude a combination of warmth, humor and kindness that is rare to find.
Patty at roll call, wearing the fabulous hat given to her by Goldie of Lidwear
What not everyone knows about Anna is that while we were all at home happily watching her on TV and in movies, she was enduring a difficult & traumatic childhood. And on top of all the trauma she experienced in her personal life, in 1982 she was also diagnosed as bi-polar. She has since become a passionate advocate, author, speaker and educator on mental health issues. (My brother is a psychiatrist and when he heard I’d be meeting Anna, he called to make sure I know what an amazing woman she is. He told me that he feels deeply indebted to her on behalf of his patients, and what a difference her work and voice has made for so many.)
As I took Mike and Anna on a tour of the market, I watched with admiration as Anna looked into the eyes of every person who approached her, and greeted them as if they were already a friend – whether a fan of her TV Show, movies, or books, or someone who has dealt with mental illness in their own life and knew of her advocacy work. She gave out hugs that clearly came from her heart, and her sparkly personality and openness left each person she met glowing.
At one point, I told Anna & Mike about a dear friend at the market who is bi-polar had hoped to meet her but couldn’t make it that day. Her husband died recently and our community is worried about her. Anna listened with clear concern and both she and Mike simply said “Call her.” So I dialed the phone and Anna took it and walked off to give her support and sage words of advice in private. Our friend was blown away by the kindness and generosity of this amazing woman.
After Anna rang the bell, a small group of us went out to breakfast. What a lovely time it was! We were joined by Lori Ness, of Northwest Prime Radio (who is the person who put me in touch with Anna), Mary Kay Sherwood of Sherwood Silkscreen, and Kat Allen of Symbols in Art.
Mike made me laugh all morning.
After breakfast so many people wanted to give Anna and Mike gifts and thank them for coming that it took us two hours to get through the market.
Mel Dofredo of Villanueva Arts is still talking about the wonderful, heartfelt conversation he had with Anna.
Sarah Porter of Saragrapics
I never expected to meet two such down to earth people and make new friends that day. But these two are in my heart (and I hope my life) forever.
If you want to know more about Anna’s journey, I recommend you read her best seller, Call Me Anna. If if you or anyone you love lives with bipolar disorder, I also highly recommend her second book, Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness.
Anna and Mike will be at the Hollywood autograph show the 12th and 13th of April, in LA. http://www.hollywoodshow.com/main.php
Anna will be speaking in Kadima, Michigan on Thursday, May 8th
Anna will be attending a screening of The Miracle Worker in Omaha, Nebraska on May 23
Duluth Superior Film Festival, May 28th to the 31st
And she will be speaking in Connecticut on June 6th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Middletown, CT
Follow Anna on Facebook