Broadway star Sandy Duncan: ‘I’m a depressive person by nature’

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Beloved entertainer Sandy Duncan is much different from her bubbly stage and screen persona.

“I’m a depressive person by nature,” she tells Page Six in an exclusive new interview.

“My husband [fellow theater star Don Correia] calls me an empath because I feel very much who I’m interacting with and it affects me in a real deep way, to the point where it’s crippling in terms of my behavior because I’m caught up in their swirl.”

Duncan, 76, takes medication to combat her depression, but she admittedly is unsure whether it works.

“I don’t know. They say it does,” she says. “I really don’t know. I just take it and go, ‘Well, all right.’ I think probably it does because I get up and go. I just don’t wallow in it. So it must be helping on some level, but I don’t know.

“Every now and then I just go, ‘I can’t get up today.’ And I couldn’t do that when I had kids,” she adds of her and Correia’s two sons, Jeffrey and Michael, now 39 and 38, respectively.

Duncan notes that having children was fortunately “a good thing” for her mental health.

“They pushed me through a lot of behavior that I would not ordinarily be able to do,” she explains. “They require it, and you have to do it. So I’m grateful for that.”

The Texas-born star started her career on Broadway — eventually garnering three Tony nominations, including one for her turn as Peter Pan — and in 1971 landed her own CBS sitcom called “Funny Face.”

However, shortly after the show’s premiere, she underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor behind her left optic nerve in her 20s. As a result, she lost vision in the eye, which the doctors left in despite urban lore that it was replaced with a glass eye.

Duncan theorizes the operation “hurt my film career,” saying, “You can see my eye straying in pictures. … I gotta believe that the photographic aspect of it was a hindrance.”

However, Duncan does not sound too upset about that, as her first love is clearly being on stage: “There’s nothing quite like a standing ovation to make you feel good.” (She was slated to do a play before the COVID-19 pandemic hit that has yet to be rescheduled.)

The Emmy nominee says her big problem is auditioning — and even she concedes she is terrible at it. When asked whether it feels insulting to be asked to audition at this point in her career, she jokingly replies, “I guess it is now that I think about it. F–k ’em!”

Duncan remembers one mortifying audition in particular where she “turned into a 14-year-old adolescent” in front of legendary composer Stephen Sondheim.

“My voice went up like two more octaves, and my behavior was completely silly,” she recalls.

“He got up and walked over to me and said, ‘Stop.’ He put his hands on my cheeks and he said, ‘You’re going to ruin something very beautiful.’ Now, I don’t know what he meant. In hindsight, I think he probably meant, ‘I have a vision of you doing a particular role. You’re going to ruin it if you don’t shut up.’ That’s probably what he meant.”

One thing that horrifies Duncan is how different the audition process is nowadays.

“Kids go in now to audition and they have to give their Instagram following. That’s crazy,” she tells us. “But I guess it’s the way producers work. They wanna be guaranteed that they’re going to get a certain attendance, and that’s what they do — anything they can, and performances be damned.”

The “Hogan Family” star feels at home on the stage for another reason: She loves to swear, and in fact, she says she is “right up there with the stagehands.”

Her favorite curse word is “c–k” because “it’s so ridiculous.”

“When I was growing up, if you ever started an F-word, people would be worried where you were going, and you’d say ‘friend’ and they’d go, ‘Phew.’ Growing up in the ’50s in Texas, you just didn’t talk like that.”

Duncan says that early in her career, people expected her to be effervescent all the time “because those were the characters that I did, and if you do something well, you get to do it again and again and again.

“So yes, that was a little bit of a problem when I was younger, but now I’m grateful anybody thinks anything about me,” she adds with a laugh. “So it doesn’t bother me anymore because I’m older, I’m feisty, I’m thrilled. Anything that leans in that direction at a certain age is welcome.”

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