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One-on-One with Patty Duke
She wanted to be a nun, but Hollywood had other plans. Now the Oscar winner talks about the faith that never left her.
February 2015
Photo provided by Rita E. Piro
Photo courtesy of Rita E. Piro One of the most popular teen stars on television, now the proud grandmother of six, Oscar winner Patty Duke, 68, is enjoying her sixth decade as a professional actor. Happily ensconced in the northern Idaho home she shares with her husband of 29 years, Michael Pearce, she is grateful for both her past successes and her present joys.

“I’ve been richly blessed,” she says softly. “When I pray, I never ask for material things. I offer only prayers of gratitude.”

By the time she entered first grade at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary School in New York City, Anna Marie Duke (she prefers to use her baptismal name) had already caught the attention of several talent scouts. By the time she made her first Communion, she was well on her way as a child star, having appeared in commercials and on television, sharing the bill with the likes of David Niven, Richard Burton, and Sir Laurence Olivier.

As a child, though, acting remained the furthest thing from her mind.

“More than anything else, I wanted to be a nun,” Anna reveals. “My friends and I would play ‘nun’ all the time. We would wrap a piece of loose-leaf paper around our forehead and neck, put a dark scarf around our head, and we would play school, taking turns being the teacher or the mother superior.” Given what lay ahead for young Anna Marie, she could have used a cloister of nuns praying around the clock for her.

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February 2015 Current Issue
Rita E. Piro is the author of many articles and books. She is on the faculty at a large Catholic high school for young women in New York City.
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