Letter writer: Patty Duke was great actor and human being

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I just wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the [March 29] passing of actress Patty Duke. Duke gave one of the great screen performances of all time in her role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.

Rivaling this performance, at least in my opinion, was her Emmy-winning portrayal of a young Southern girl in the 1971 TV movie My Sweet Charlie. Few films have actually changed my perspective about life, but this one did. Those not born and raised in the South may not fully get just how good she was. She inhabits the role the way only great actors can. How someone born and raised in New York could so flawlessly channel a character like Marlene is beyond my comprehension; I only know she did.

Perhaps it’s like singer Harry Chapin said, “The real ones learn it somewhere.” Patty Duke was one of the realest, a great actor who also happened to be a great human being.

— Joe Elliott

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3 thoughts on “Letter writer: Patty Duke was great actor and human being

  1. boatrocker

    Harry Chapin, FYI , was born in New York and pretty much performed like any other folkie born there- like an icky Great Folk Scare performer who invited bongo players to sit in and called impromptu gatherings of other ‘musicians’ to play ‘hootenannies’ comprised of ‘work songs’ for most likely never picking fruit like a migrant Okie ala The Grapes of Wrath.

    His dad was an excellent jazz drummer for playing with Woody Herman (jazz being considered a form of American music with actual teeth but feared by lily white singer/songwriters as a general rule).

    Try some Woody Guthrie or Gil Scott Heron on for size for activist type music.

    How does one judge an actress by where she was born? It’s called acting- someone born in one place can act like someone born and raised in another place- sort of like all those awful Charlton Heston Easter time yay Jesus movies where British actors in makeup played Egyptian pharaohs (not very well) and convinced moviegoers of the time that this was the real deal.

    Duke did it well, I would agree.

    Duke was a good actress yes, but if this is the issue you feel so passionate about that you need to write a letter to editor about it, well I’m quite envious of you and your (guessing?) Baby Boomer life on Easy Street and your taste in folk music (pronounced fohlllllk by those purveyors of groundbreaking musicianship).

    It must be a slow week for the Letters to the Editor if we the readers aren’t subjected to homophobic and bigoted accounts of how the poors and non Jesus GOP types are destroying this country, how crystals can enhance your namaste flow or why being an omnivore is a sin.

  2. Chuck Bellack

    Joe, you are right on point with your description of Patty Duke. She truly was one of the most gifted actors of our generation and largely ignored by Hollywood after the age of 30. When I see actors like Meryl Streep overused by Hollywood and Anna ignored it just grated my nerves. I miss her so much and hope that someone recognizes her contribution to life in the near future. Chuck Bellack

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