Actress Patty Duke's life in Couer d'Alene, Idaho, is filled with happy, everyday moments such as taking her granddaughters to dance and gymnastics lessons, cooking for Thanksgiving and enjoying time with her husband of almost 25 years.
As she hosted a conference call recently to promote her latest movie, â€œUnanswered Prayers,â€ which debuts at 8 tonight on Lifetime, she welcomed each person on the line individually, joked about the cold weather and spoke honestly about her journey that got her to this point in life.
â€œI've been very lucky,â€ she said. â€œI have a very full plate.â€
Her contented life these days is far from the time she won an Oscar for â€œThe Miracle Workerâ€ in 1962, became famous as the child star of â€œThe Patty Duke Showâ€ which aired from 1963-66, and later became known for her hard life, marriages, substance abuse, mood swings and other off-screen antics before she finally was diagnosed and received treatment for bipolar disorder.
She has since written two best-selling books about her life, â€œCall Me Annaâ€ and â€œA Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic Depression Illness.â€
Duke, who is about to turn 64, thanks God that some of her own prayers went unanswered in her youth.
â€œI attempted suicide a number of times. I'm very glad that prayer wasn't answered. I obviously had more to do here. I thank God and the professionals in the medical world who made it possible.â€
Lifetime's â€œUnanswered Prayersâ€ is based on the 1990 hit song by Oklahoman Garth Brooks, the Grammy Award-winning country music artist who was an executive producer on the show along with Lisa Sanderson, producing partner and chief executive of Red Strokes Entertainment.
The television movie stars Eric Close as a happily married father who encounters his high school flame, played by Madchen Amick, and wonders what could have been ... with her. Duke stars as the man's mother-in-law. Samantha Mathis plays his wife.
Duke said she has admired Brooks for years and that his visits to the set were memorable.
One of his songs â€” â€œThe Danceâ€ â€” was played at her stepdaughter's funeral about 13 years ago because she, too, was a fan until she died after a car accident at age 22.
â€œWhen I told him that, he was so real. The first thing he said, of course, was â€˜Oh, my God,' and then he said, â€˜It's not supposed to be that way. That's backwards. We're not supposed to bury our children,' which I thought was such a gracious way of saying he could relate,â€ Duke said. â€œThat was one of the few moments he wasn't able to make me laugh
These days, while she will discuss her past when asked about it, she's more interested in talking about her present.
Even though her role in â€œUnanswered Prayersâ€ is a supportive one, she enjoyed developing the character and working on the movie in general.
â€œThe whole experience turned out to be one of the best I've ever had in the workplace,â€ Duke said.
â€œI think, from the top down ... (producers) set a tone of gentility. People were polite to each other, and it just made it a lovely experience,â€ she said.
In Idaho, she's getting ready to direct a community production of â€œThe Miracle Workerâ€ and she's happy to get the chance to work on projects such as â€œUnanswered Prayers.â€