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Patty Duke (1946-2016)

  1. Hayley Mills, Pollyanna, 1960.      LA director David Swift looked at 362 girls and still had no Pollyanna. In London, Walt Disney’s wife, Lily, happened to go see  Tiger Bay, 1959. Walt took some persuading but  that, eventually, was that.“You are like a great big white cabbage,” John Mills told his daughter after her first morning’s (awful) work in Hollywood. “Yes, really boring!”   She improved enough to win a special Oscar for her 1960 work, at age 14.   Duke got hers two years later   for  The Miracle Worker.
  2. Merrie Spaeth, The World of Henry Orient, 1964.     Merrie never made another film. By 1984, she was a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan and Director of Media Relations at the White House, pioneering satellite communications and the electronic White House News Service.
  3. Natalie Wood, The Great Race, 1964.       Director Blake Edwartds' first choice, Jane Fonda, was shooting a better comedy, Cat Ballou. Second notion, Lee Remick, was committed to Broadway. Wood accepted the suffragette Maggie DuBois - as long as head Brother Jack Warner agreed to give her Inside Daisy Clover. Director Blake Edwards wished Warner had refused… Blake wanted Duke or Elizabeth Hartman and did not enjoy the diva-ish Wood. He got his revenge during the largest ever custard pie scene (4,000 pies over five days), hurling them with relish in her face!
  4. Natalie Wood, Inside Daisy Clover, 1964.   Wood told author Gavin Lambert that she’d kill fo the Daisy role. No need, said he, you’re everyone’s #1 choice. Why? OK, it’s similar to her story (or Gypsy’s), quirky Mama and all. But Daisy is 15 when her Hollywood ascension begins. Wood was 27. There were better contenders. Duke, a kid star, herself, was 18; Elizabeth Hartman was 21. Major flop, then. After one more (also with Robert Redford), Natalie quit movies for three years.
  5. Charmian Carr, The Sound of Music, 1964.       Two years after her Miracle Worker Oscar, Duke was in director Robert Wise’s loop for Liesel Von Trapp - with Kim Darby, Sharon Tate and Lesley Ann Warren. Plus four daughters of the famous: Charlie’s Geraldine Chaplin, Judy Garland’s Liza Minnelli, Maureen O’Sullivan’s Mia Frrow and Ann Sothern’s Tisha Sterling.
  6. Elizabeth Hartman, A Patch of Blue, 1965.      Duke’s managers, John and Ethel Ross, steered her away from another handicapped role so soon after The Miracle Worker. Eli zabeth went blind for “my best film ever."   After a mere 14 screen roles, Hartman   suicided in 1987.
  7. Sally Field, The Flying Nun, TV, 1967-1970.        First on the runway as Sister Bertrille. Sally also turned  it down - at first.
  8. Katharine Ross, The Graduate, 1967.     Although she and Anne Bancroft had won Oscars for The Miracle Worker in 1961, Duke was hardly the best of choices for Anne, Mrs  Robinson’s daughter. Yet she won it. And promptly walked. “I don’t want to work at this time”!  Broadway’s Mike Nichols came to town and saw, tested, auditioned almost every other  babe of the correct age. From Baby Doll to Lolita, by way of Saint Joan and  The Flying Nun… Ann-Margret, Elizabeth Ashley, Carroll Baker, Candice Bergen, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Sue Lyon, Carol Lynley, Hayley Mills, Yvette Mimieux, Suzanne Pleshette, Lee Remick, Jean Seberg, Pamela Tiffin, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood. Having played Games with her that year, Simone Signoret recommended Ross to Nichols.
  9. Mia Farrow, Rosemary’s Baby, 1968.         Director Roman Polanski also looked at Jane Fonda, Tuesday Weld and... Goldie Hawn!
  10. Liza Minnelli, The Sterile Cuckoo, 1969.    Pookie was offered to Patty before the word from London on Liza’s debut, Charlie Bubbles, 1967. 

  11. Sally Field, Sybil, TV, 1976.        Patty auditioned for the lead role(s) and clashed with the first director. Sally quickly moved in. (The real Sybil was Shirley Ardell Mason, an art teacher who died in 1998 at the age of 75 in Lexington, Kentucky).
  12. Kathleen Quinlan, I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, 1977.    Passed in the 60s because now she had no wish to be married and work simultaneously
  13. Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982.      Howard Hawks said she always seemed to be shining. “More talent than anyone I ever worked with.” She and Vivien Leigh were beaten by Ingrid Bergman to For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1943 She’s the subject of various books, plays (viz Sally Clarke’s Saint Frances of Hollywood), pop and rock songs - French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer even took her name. All actresses loved her talent and guts (when wrongfully committed to asylums by her parents) and 23 wanted to be… Frances Farmer. From the sublime to the ridiculous: Meryl Streep, to Susan Dey of TV’s Partridge Family. Kim Basinger tested with Sam Shepard (Lange’s husband). Undaunted Susan Blakely made her own 1983 TVersion (from Farmer’s book, Will There Really Be A Morning?). Plus Duke, Anne Archer, Ann-Margret, Blythe Danner, Mia Farrow, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Glenda Jackson, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Michelle Phillips, Katharine Ross, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood.
  14. Sally Field, Soapdish, 1991.        Still close rivals after  24 years.
  15. Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek: Voyager, TV, 1995-2001.     

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