As a pathologically uncool teenager, I would take two pictures with me whenever I got my hair cut. I’d keep these pictures tucked away in my bag until my hairdresser would ask if I had a style in mind. The first picture I’d pull out was invariably of Julianne Moore. Didn’t matter what movie it was from—she had red hair and I had red hair, so what looked good on her had to look good on me, right? (Wrong, but that isn’t the point of this story.)
The second picture I would take with me was of Patty Duke. Not Patty Duke as Neely from Valley of the Dolls, which would have been sexier, or Patty Duke as Helen Keller, which would have been at least more in line with current trends. Nope, I took an old black-and-white photo of Patty Duke as Patty—or, I guess, Cathy—Lane from The Patty Duke Show. I envied her volume. My mom insisted it was a hairpiece, but I had faith in those women at Regis and knew they could pull it off.
As I got older, I learned to live for myself (at least when it came to choosing haircuts), but Patty Duke remained an idol of mine. I was a fan of her work as an actress, and even had a couple of her records, which my mother and I would listen to on occasion. Growing up, my mom and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but it was universally recognized in the Faraone household that Patty Duke was something special.
I admired Patty Duke most—as so many others did—for her work to de-stigmatize mental health issues. She suffered from bipolar disorder, and as the first celebrity to go public with such a diagnosis, she started a conversation around the topic that continues to this day. Patty Duke worked tirelessly to raise awareness of mental health issues, lobbying the U.S. Congress and teaming up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness and National Institute of Mental Health to increase funding for research on mental illness and its effects.
I didn’t know Patty Duke personally, and can’t pretend the sense of loss I feel today in any way equals the loss felt by her friends and family. Still, her life and legacy are things to be recognized, and it’s clear she did a tremendous amount with the time she had. Rest in peace, cool girl. You’ll be missed.
by Juliette Faraone