Vale: Patty Duke

Former child star, best known for The Patty Duke Show and The Miracle Worker, has died.


Former child star actress Patty Duke, best known for The Patty Duke Show and The Miracle Worker, has died, aged 69.

She died from complications of a ruptured intestine, said her husband, Michael Pearce.

In 1959 Duke was just 12 when she starred as Helen Keller in the original Broadway production of The Miracle Worker alongside Anne Bancroft as Helen’s teacher. She reprised the role for a 1963 feature and won the Academy Award for best supporting actress.

Her sitcom The Patty Duke Show saw her in the dual roles of Patty Lane, an unaffected Brooklyn girl, and her worldly, Scottish “identical cousin,” Cathy Lane. It ran from 1963 – 1966 with Duke becoming a national favourite “girl next door.”

But her life had its own dramas: parental alcoholism; her removal from her home by her managers, who co-opted not only her earnings but also her very identity; implication in the television quiz-show scandals of the late 1950s; sexual abuse; four marriages; and more than one suicide attempt.

It was not until 1982 when she received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, along with proper medication.

She was politically active, becoming president of the Screen Actors Guild and advocating causes such as bipolar disorder, mental health, AIDS awareness and nuclear disarmament.

Her other TV credits included My Sweet Charlie, Captains and the Kings, Call Me Anna, The Love Boat, Amazing Grace, Touched by an Angel, Glee, Marcus Welby MD, Police Story, Hawaii Five-0, The Virginian, Ben Casey and The Miracle Worker – playing teacher Annie Sullivan to Melissa Gilbert’s Helen Keller.

She won three Emmy Awards.

Film credits included Valley of the Dolls, Bigger than the Sky, Kimberley, Prelude to a Kiss, The Swarm and The Goddess.

In 1972, Duke married Addams Family‘s John Astin. They divorced in 1985. Their son Sean Astin today said “This morning, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother, matriarch and the exquisite artist, humanitarian, and champion for mental health, Anna PATTY DUKE Pearce, closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place,.

“We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life.”

Source: NY Times

9 Responses

  1. One of her classic films was a TV-movie “If Tomorrow Comes”, which received rave reviews when aired. Unfortunately another great movie missing somewhere in someone’s archives. RIP Patty.

  2. i remember seeing the Miracle Worker on tv when i was about 13 yo & it had a huge impact on me, probably one of the first serious themed movies i really appreciated as a young adult. Patty was also one of the first celebrities i remember who talked openly about her battles with mental illness which is a subject close to my heart having close relatives with various degrees of it. I had no idea until now that she was Sean Astin’s mother. RIP Patty, you will be missed.

  3. I was only watching – again – Patty in Valley of the Dolls the other day. A truly epic performance from a woman of a great range of talents. They don’t make ’em like that anymore – RIP Patty.

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