All The Way Broken is the audio diary of Iolene Catalano, a former heroin addict and prostitute. She was born on May 10, 1948, in a carnival trailer in Pennsylvania. Her mother was an exotic dancer and her father ran a crooked carnival concession. She spent her childhood in orphanages, reform schools, and mental institutions. By age twenty, she was living on the streets of New York City as a prostitute, thief, and some-time rock-and-roll singer. Iolene was diagnosed with HIV one month after she shot heroin for the last time.
Together Catalano and producer David Isay recorded more than thirty hours of interviews. In April 1994, Iolene had a breakdown. She was admitted to Roosevelt Hospital in New York City, and the project was suspended. Throughout her illness, Catalano kept a tape recorder by her bed-side. At night, she’d have a nurse tape a microphone to her chest so that she could record her thoughts before she fell asleep.
Iolene died at Roosevelt Hospital on June 3, 1994. She was clean for the last eight years of her life. All The Way Broken won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 1996.
Premiered September 9, 1995, on Weekend All Things Considered.
This documentary comes from Sound Portraits Productions, a mission-driven independent production company that was created by Dave Isay in 1994. Sound Portraits was the predecessor to StoryCorps and was dedicated to telling stories that brought neglected American voices to a national audience.