Thursday, June 27, 2019

One, Maybe Two, Degrees of Seperation

I have a quick question for you.

 What does Mark Twain and...

...Patty Duke have in common?

They both knew Helen Keller!

Twain, then 59, first met the 14-year old Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan at a literary gathering at a private home in Manhattan in the 1890s. Impressed by Keller's comic book-superpower sense of touch, her only means of comprehending the world around her, Twain became and remained a close friend of hers for the rest of his life.  When Twain found out Keller was having some trouble getting into the college of her choice--schools of higher learning, being much less interested in diversity than they are today, were reluctant to give a scholarship to a blind and deaf girl, even one with her immense intelligence--he persuaded his friend Henry Rogers, a Standard Oil executive who in his off-hours preferred the company of authors to corporate bigwigs, to fund her education. She graduated from Harvard's Radcliffe College with high marks in 1904 and went on to become a world-famous writer, lecturer, and political activist (without going into particulars, her views were closer to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez than to the Koch brothers.)

On to Patty Duke, who came into the world a little more than three-and-a-half decades after Mark Twain left it. As I'm sure many of you already know, Duke played Helen Keller in the stage and film versions of William Gibson's The Miracle Worker (a phrase coined by Twain.) Duke and Keller seem to have met only once, when filming began on Worker, so the photos that emerged from that meeting--I had several to choose from--may have been publicity shots. Nothing wrong with that. The 1962  Arthur Penn-directed movie was more than worthy of the publicity. Duke turned in a superb Oscar-winning performance, convincingly playing not just a blind and deaf girl but a seven-year-old as well, even though she was fifteen at the time!

Without further adieu, and with no sign whatsoever of Mrs. Robinson or the identical twin cousin from Scotland, here's the trailer:

I have nothing particularly profound to say about any of this. I just find it interesting when famous people come into contact with each other.  

I have nothing particularly profound to say about this, either. And besides, Lucy's kid's not as famous as he used to be.

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