As a teenager, Patty Duke appeared to have it all.
She had a hit play on Broadway. She had an Academy Award. She had her own television show. She had money, fame and talent.What Duke also had was a pair of guardians who
abused her emotionally, physically and sexually.
After marrying young to escape them, Duke went through men, marriages, drugs, alcohol and suicide attempts. Even when she had apparently settled down with husband John Astin, behind the scenes her life was still a mess - the product of undiagnosed manic depression.
The story of Duke's troubled life and ultimate triumph over mental illness, first chronicled in her book, "Call Me Anna," comes to television as a two-hour movie by the same name (Sunday at 8 p.m. on Ch. 4).
And despite those troubles, she seems remarkably forgiving of even her guardians.
"The purpose of the book . . . , in addition to getting information out about mental illness that is treatable, is about forgiveness, because this is the way I have to live my life.
"I cannot go on with my life if I carry with me anger and hatred and bitterness."
Duke appears in "Call Me Anna," (her real name), but only as the third of three Patty Dukes. Ari Meyers ("Kate & Allie") portrays Patty as a young teen; Jennie Robertson takes her from her late teens to early 30s; and Duke plays herself toward the end of the movie. Duke had some advice for the other actresses.
"When we got together, it really was . . . up to me to let each of them know that they were now to go and do what they could do with it. That to do an imitation of me misses the point," Duke said. "I trusted them."
"Call Me Anna" appears remarkably honest - Duke makes no attempt to make excuses for herself for her behavior. "I take responsibility for all of (my actions), whether I was manic or depressed or anything in between," she said.
The men in her life - including Astin - didn't have any input into the movie, but they come off as victims of Duke's behavior.
"John is a very generous, kind, decent man," Duke said. "It was very important to me that the agony that this man went through be recognized, and, in the end, that he be applauded for his stamina and his style and his grace."
And, fortunately for the movie and for Duke, the story has a happy ending. Her condition was diagnosed, she's taking lithium to control her ups and downs, she was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, she's remarried and has a young son, and she's become a spokeswoman in the crusade to battle mental illness.
"It really is important to me that this is be a story about anybody," Duke said. "Because it really could be anybody. It's 40 million Americans a year."