Valley of the Doll

Where have all the child stars gone? Damaged, disappeared, and prematurely dead — that’s the typical trajectory for starlets and singers exposed to an overdose of flashbulbs at an early age. The few hardy survivors of adolescent fame and exploitation tend to get overlooked in favor of sensational victim-heroes like Michael Jackson. "Sparkle, Patty, Sparkle!" pays overdue tribute to a singularly talented actress, recording artist, and memoirist who surmounted both a scarring childhood and youthful success to carve out a lifelong career. Anna Marie Duke — Patty, to you — had an Academy Award (for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker) and a hit weekly TV show by the time she was 16. Duke bravely shattered her goody-two-shoes image in 1967 by seizing the role of boozy pill-popper Neely O’Hara in the film adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s sordid best-seller, Valley of the Dolls. Despite lingering painful memories of the shoot, Duke has graciously allowed promoter Marc Huestis to show the bad-taste classic following her onstage coffee klatch with Hollywood Squares' Bruce Vilanch; the night also includes performances by Matthew Martin and Connie Champagne. Serious students of acting — and would-be child stars — are encouraged to also catch the noon matinee of The Miracle Worker.
Mon., July 20, 8 p.m., 2009

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