In the Presence of Greatness: My Sixty-Year Journey as an Actress

Shortly before her death in 2016 at age 69, actress Patty Duke (with coauthor William J. Jankowski) surveyed her six-decade career on TV, film and stage and produced In the Presence of Greatness. It is a delightful, engaging and upbeat salute to the talented people with whom she worked. "Some of this book is going to sound like I lived an enchanted life, but when I went to work, I often did," writes Duke.

When 16-year-old Duke won an Academy Award re-creating her Broadway performance of Helen Keller in the film The Miracle Worker, she had already co-starred with Richard Burton, Kim Stanley, Laurence Olivier, Helen Hayes, David Niven and Gloria Vanderbilt (who provides the book's heartfelt foreword, calling Duke "the daughter I never had."). Although this memoir focuses on her career with incisive, thoughtful and revealing anecdotes about her coworkers, there is plenty of juicy details about her personal life, including her romantic relationships (dating both Frank Sinatra and his son), a suicide attempt and her battles with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. This is an essential follow-up to her 1987 autobiography Call Me Anna. She corrects misinformation from her earlier book (John Astin is not the father of her son Sean Astin) and revises old perspectives (she learned to embrace Valley of the Dolls and devotes six chapters to the creation of this camp classic).

Patty Duke was a dazzling talent who never stopped working. Her insightful reflections on her 60-year career and coworkers will be catnip to movie buffs. This photo-filled book is a total delight. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

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