Actress Patty Duke Astin was an Emmy Award and Oscar Award-winning actress. Her first and best-known role was in The Miracle Worker. Initially a play, the telling of the life of Helen Keller, a woman born deaf and blind, on Broadway in 1959. This role, as a child star, put Duke on the map. After the broadway performance’s success, a film adaptation of The Miracle Worker was released in 1962. The film starred Anne Bancroft as Hellen Keller’s aid, Anne Sullivan.
For her role, she was the Oscar winner for Best Supporting Actress for portraying Helen Keller. At just 16, she was the youngest person to win the award.
After The Miracle Worker, Patty Duker received her own sitcom, The Patty Duke Show. The tv show, created by Sidney Sheldon, ran from 1963-1966. Duke played multiple characters on the show, Patty Lane and Cathy Lane, who looks just the same. The cast included Jean Byron as her mother, William Schallert, the casted father, and paul O’Keefe, her brother. In 1999, The Patty Duke show reprised, and Duke returned to play identical cousins in the tv movie, a The Patty Duke show: Still Rockin in Brooklyn Heights.
The Valley of the Dolls, her next project, the following year, was based on a novel with the same name. She starred with Barbara Parkins, Susan Hayward, and Sharon Tate. The film, where Duke played Neely O’Hara, wasn’t very successful but garnered a cult following nevertheless. Me, Natalie came next in 1970. She won Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
In 2004 she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A somewhat different career, as a singer, saw her with two top hits in 1965, “Don’t Just Stand There” and “Say Something Funny.” Another Hollywood accolade includes having been was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1983-1988.
Duke was a mental health advocate, and one of the first celebrities to do so. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982 and spoke publically about it, and wrote about mental illness candidly in her book “Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness.” Her other book, her autobiography, was “Call Me Anna.”
She had multiple husbands. First was Emmy nominated TV director, director Harry falk, next was a rock promoter, Michael Tell. Following in third place was actor John Astin, and lastly, Michael Pearce, a television director and actor. After this marriage, she started going by Anna Duke Pearce for her writings and non-Hollywood related work.
She died of Sepsis of a ruptured intestine at the age of 69. She was at the hospital in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, the city where she and her husband lived. She is survived by her fourth husband, Michael Pearce, and children Sean Astin, Mackenzie Astin, and Kevin Pearce.