…But I guess that’s where our similarities end. While I have never portrayed my own cousin, nor won an Academy Award, Patty Duke has done both. As both a sitcom star (in the eponymous Patty Duke Show) and an Oscar winner (for The Miracle Worker, playing the deaf and blind Helen Keller), she really disappointed me when she cancelled her appearance at the Chicago Hollywood Show in September of 2010. This couldn’t be helped however as she had landed a role in the Hallmark movie Unanswered Prayers and they were filming during this time. The fans would have to wait.
Fortunately, just a little over a month later, she was slated to make an appearance at the Chiller Theatre Show on October 30, 2010. Oddly enough, her former husband John Astin was appearing there as well – but he wasn’t sitting anywhere near her. Good thing. When my friend Brad Sterner attempted to have her sign a photo of her and Astin that day, she burst into tears! I didn’t witness this and only heard about it later.
I however didn’t bring anything for her to sign so I wasn’t in much danger in causing her to have a breakdown. She had quite a few great photos available – among them photos from The Patty Duke Show, The Miracle Worker, and even a picture of her with the real Helen Keller. In the end I opted for a shot from the photo that garnered her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I had toyed with the idea of getting a photo of he and her ‘twin cousin’ from her sitcom and then having her sign it twice. Had her handler made me a deal, I might have purchased both.
It surprised me a little bit that Patty was charging an extra $10 (in addition to the $25 photo) to get a picture taken with her. She seemed absolutely enamored with the fans – which is why it took close to an hour to get through her amazingly long line. And wouldn’t you know that as Peter, Bill, and I neared her table, she took a restroom break, stopping to greet fans all along the way, thus making the wait all that much longer.
Eventually, we made it to her table. I had been watching carefully how she would sign her photo behind her table (while standing) then come out from behind to hand it to the fan, give them a giant hug, pose for pictures, and chat as long as you wanted to chat. I asked Peter to be ready to snap a few photos as she did all of this.
The real hug
I didn’t have a whole lot to chat about since I hadn’t seen either her show or The Miracle Worker in many years. But I did tell her how I had missed seeing her in Chicago. She talked about the Hallmark movie and how it had been based on the Garth Brooks song Unanwered Prayers and how she had met him during production and thought the world of him.
The posed hug
When someone cancels at an autograph show, you never know if you’ll ever get the chance to meet them again. But some miracle worker made sure I had no unanswered prayers. It was great meeting this fellow hot dog buff.
UPDATE: I had a second encounter with Patty Duke at the Chiller Theatre Show two and a half years later on April 27, 2013. Having met Barbara Parkins in 2012, I had obtained a photo from Valley of the Dolls that I wanted to have Patty sign. I also thought it would be smart to get a signed photo from The Patty Duke Show, since I profess myself as a sitcom junkie.
I worked out a deal with the handler to get these at the price of $20 each. I described how I wanted her to sign her name twice, once for each character. But ultimately, she either misunderstood it or didn’t want to do it. What I got was almost as good though.
You can check out the signed Valley of the Dolls photo here. Patty was again extremely nice, and lamented the sickening death of Sharon Tate at the hands of the Charles Manson family in 1969. Having gotten such great photos with Patty as seen above, I opted not to plunk down another $10 for an additional photo op.
Celebrities of the Fall 2010 Chiller Theatre show will continue…
Celebrities of the Spring 2013 Chiller Theatre show will continue…