Author Archives: Stacy Jenel Smith

About Stacy Jenel Smith

Started by acclaimed columnist Marilyn Beck in the 1960s, Beck/Smith Hollywood Exclusive is the longest-running syndicated Hollywood column today. Since Beck's death in 2014, it has been written by her long-time writing partner, Stacy Jenel Smith

RIP Patty Duke

Patty Duke

Patty Duke

The death of Baby Boomer icon Patty Duke last week at age 69 has left many of us with a sense of personal loss. The last time we spoke, in 2013, she had just completed a guesting on “Glee” in which she and Meredith Baxter played a lesbian couple. She loved the experience for several reasons – as a supporter of the gay community, as one who enjoyed acting alongside a fellow former sitcom fave, and as a chance to remind show business powers of her considerable chops.

She and her husband of 30 years, Mike Pearce, lived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where she found happiness and a degree of peace — and frustration in getting Hollywood to hire her. The Oscar-winning actress deserved more attention than she received in recent years.

“I’d like to make a few more sheckels, so that when I do retire I can do so with a little bit of comfort and style,” she said. And she did expect to retire someday. “I can’t be Betty White, but I’m so thrilled for her. She is such an inspiration to me.”

Duke, of course, was herself an inspiration to many.  Besides acting and personal appearances, she continued to do a fair amount of speaking engagements related to mental health issues. Her story of coming back from the depths of bipolar illness serves as a beacon of hope to others coping with such problems.

“I hope it does,” she said. “What I want to be to them is a glimmer of who they can be if they choose to get balanced.”

Some three decades after her diagnosis, Duke told us, “Every day is not perfect for me. I get sad sometimes, but there’s a reason for it. It’s not that other kind of depression that lurks, waiting to bring you down. I feel ecstasy, but not the kind like when I bought several Mercedes in one day when I didn’t have any money.” She laughed. “But I paid the consequences for it. I paid and moved on.”

In the 1960’s Duke was the beloved, Oscar-winning (“The Miracle Worker”) child actress who became the jaunty teen star of her own hugely popular TV show — who then grew up and melted down before the public’s eyes.  After her image-altering role in the 1967 cult fave “Valley of the Dolls,” her bizarre behavior, wild partying and high-profile romances sold forests’ worth of tabloids.  When she won an Emmy for her work in “My Sweet Charlie” in 1970, her behavior onstage convinced many she was on drugs and/or alcohol, and mockery ensued.  “We have taken Patty Duke’s acceptance speech down to the code room to be deciphered,” one major paper told the world.  “We will report what she said as soon as we figure it out.”

Eventually, she gained control of the bipolar illness at the root of her troubles, and with therapy found some healing for the agonized childhood she wrote about in her best-selling “Call Me Anna” memoir.  She was also able to resume her distinguished career, including serving as Screen Actors Guild president.

A few years ago, commenting on the press hounding of Demi Lovato, as the former Disney Channel sweetheart coped with a breakdown, Duke urged media restraint.  “”Be quiet and let the girl figure it out,” she said.  “These are people, these young girls.  Some of them can build a shield against the negative media, but most of them can’t — and it hurts.”

In a world full of hurters, Patty Duke — aka Anna Pearce — was truly a helper, a legacy that — along with her catalog of stellar performances — will not be soon forgotten.

It’s Oscar Time! Test Your Academy Awards Knowledge

Leonardo DiCaprio

Leonardo DiCaprio

The wait is almost over for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year! With the 88th Academy Awards coming up this Sunday, Feb. 28, it’s time to test your Oscar expertise. Here’s our Oscar quiz, with a little gossip, a little trivia and a few blushworthy moments mixed in:
1. In this year of the OscarsSoWhite Twitter hashtag controversy, African-American Chris Rock will host the show again after 11 years. He’s the third African-American star to take on hosting chores. Name the first two.
A. Sidney Poitier and Richard Pryor
B. Whoopi Goldberg and Denzel Washington
C. Richard Pryor and Whoopi Goldberg

The answer is C: Pryor co-hosted the show in 1977 and 1983, and Goldberg was the first African-American woman — and woman in general — to host the Oscars without a co-host, doing so four times between 1994 and 2002.
2. “Room” nominee Brie Larson’s first language was:
A. Norwegian
B. French
C. Danish

The answer is B: French. The 26-year-old, born Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers, is French Canadian from her father’s side.

3. Will this finally, at long last, be Leonardo DiCaprio’s year? Nominated this year for “The Revenant,” how many times has he previously been up for Oscar honors?
A. 3
B. 5
C. 2
The answer is B: DiCaprio has been nominated five times but has never won. Perhaps this sixth nom will be the charm.

4. Which Oscar winner missed a co-star’s acceptance speech at the 2011 Awards because he was at the bar and got locked out of the theater?
A. Melissa Leo
B. Colin Firth
C. Christian Bale

The answer is C: Christian Bale missed out on his on-screen mom, Melissa Leo’s Oscar moment for “The Fighter.”

5. This best actor Oscar winner’s acceptance speech, thanking his high school drama teacher, a gay man, is said to have been the inspiration for Kevin Kline’s “In and Out” movie.
A. Richard Dreyfuss for “The Goodbye Girl”
B. Tom Hanks for “Philadelphia”
C. Russell Crowe for “Gladiator”

B. Tom Hanks

6. A two-time Oscar nominee for “The Help” and “Doubt,” this actress is also the first African-American to win an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
A. Cicely Tyson
B. Octavia Spencer
C. Viola Davis

The answer is C: Viola Davis of “How to Get Away With Murder.”

7. Hal Holbrook and Ruby Dee were nominees with a special distinction in the 80th Oscars. What did they have in common?
A. They were the last two nominees born before the first Academy Awards.
B. They were also nominated for an Emmy that year.
C. They both did voiceovers for Sears financial services.

The answer is A: They were born before the first Oscars in 1929.

8. The story goes that she won an Oscar and he was jealous, which led to their breakup.
A. Sandra Bullock and Jesse James
B. Sally Field and Burt Reynolds
C. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise

The answer is B: Sally Field and Burt Reynolds. Bullock learned that her husband was having an affair just days after her Oscar win. Kidman won her trophy after her marriage to Cruise had ended.
9. Which one of these portrayals did not involve partial nudity?
A. Gwyneth Paltrow, “Shakespeare in Love”
B. Catherine Zeta-Jones, “Chicago”
C. Kathy Bates, “About Schmidt”

The answer is B: Catherine Zeta-Jones.

10. After he dumped her on national TV, she showed up on the Oscars red carpet looking especially stunning.
A. Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow
B. Billy Bob Thornton, Laura Dern
C. Matt Damon, Minnie Driver

The answer is C: Matt Damon dumped Minnie Driver.