Apr 1, 2016

Bucket Of Sads: Patty Duke

Oh, Patty. Patty, Patty, Patty.

My Cuban Luvuh shamed me today, because I'd yet to post a Bucket Of Sads for everyone's favorite movie pill popper, Miss Patty "Call Me Anna" Duke, who took a sudden exit off life's highway to what I hope is a stress-free heaven, because her life was really-really hard. And her singing voice? Let's just say that her vocal for "Theme From 'The Valley Of The Dolls'" makes it sound like she's just been kicked down two flights of stairs. Then sat on by Mama Cass. God bless Patty.


Larry said...

Thanks for remembering Patty. I'm surprised no one else has commented to express their sorrow at her passing. Back in the 1980s I was amazed by her autobiography. A recommended book of much greater value than most celebrity bios.

We've all been amazed by her in The Miracle Worker and bewildered by Valley Of The Dolls. After that most will only recall some histrionic TV movie-of-the-week or disaster movie roles. It's interesting to note the trajectory her career took from playing a disabled child, to a typical teen, then the disaster Valley. Then a handful of additional teen roles right into playing moms. Portraying children when she was a child and moms as a young adult. Those were the primary roles available to an actress who was not a model at the time.

I'd like to point out a couple of interesting films which seem to have nearly vanished. In 1969 she starred in ME, NATALIE. A far from perfect film (the attempts to use a Rod McKuen soundtrack in a similar way the the Simon & Garfunkel presence in THE GRADUATE are lamentable) it's still worth watching. Duke portrays a homely young woman who struggles with becoming an adult when she moves from home to an apt in Greenwich Village.

In 1972 Patty was in an effective little horror film titled YOU'LL LIKE MY MOTHER. A very scary psychological thriller/horror film. Richard Thomas (John Boy Walton!) is also good as the villain.

You've read the book so you know Patty claimed she never wanted to be a singer. She certainly can't sing. But I've still got her first (non soundtrack) LP, Don't Just Stand There. Weak & pitchy vocals aside, it's still a pretty fun record. The production and original tunes are on par with many of the teen records of the time. With a real singer it would have been a good record. As it stands it still had a single that got airplay and made the top 40. The compilation CD "The Best Of Patty Duke: Just Patty" is a lot of fun. It's got all the best tracks from her albums, deletes the most embarrassing ones (no "Theme From Valley Of The Dolls," thank you very much) plus the two original recordings of the theme song from her TV show in great fidelity, and ends with studio outtakes of Patty attempting to sing. The only Patty Duke CD ever assembled with great care and affection.

Sorry to go on and on but it's nice to have this space to say that Patty Duke was someone who mattered to me. I enjoyed following her career and appreciate her advocacy for the mentally ill. I was saddened to learn of her passing.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

Thank you for the wonderful comment, Larry.
And by the way, I haven't seen "You'll Like My Mother," but it sounds absolutely delicious.
For those who are interested, it's not available on Netflix, but you can check it out here:

Larry said...

Thanks Cheerful. I'd never heard of that rarefilmm site before but it seems to be a real treasure trove.

Larry said...

Spent a few minutes looking at that movie site. Already found several that are on my highly recommended list. One example is Frank Perry's PLAY IT AS IT LAYS (based on Joan Didion's novel). It opens with a fantastic montage sequence. Perhaps an interesting contrast to VALLEY OF THE DOLLS take on Hollywood.

The Cheerful Earfull! said...

I wasn't crazy about that one myself, but, yes, the site has oodles of hard to find flicks! :D