Former child actor, Oscar winner Patty Duke dies
Patty Duke, who as a teen won an Oscar for playing Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker” and maintained a long and successful career throughout her life while battling personal demons, has died at the age of 69.
Duke’s agent, Mitchell Stubbs, says the actress died early Tuesday morning of sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She died in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, according to Teri Weigel, the publicist for her son, actor Sean Astin.
Duke found early success playing the young Keller first on Broadway, then in the acclaimed 1962 film version, both with Anne Bancroft as Helen’s teacher, Annie Sullivan.
Then in 1963, she burst on the TV scene starring in a sitcom, “The Patty Duke Show,” which aired for three seasons. She played dual roles under an unconventional premise: as identical cousins living in Brooklyn, New York.
In 2015, she would play twin roles again: as a pair of grandmas on an episode of “Liv and Maddie,” a series on the Disney Channel.
Born Anna Marie Pearce in Queens, New York, on Dec. 14, 1946, Duke had a difficult childhood with abusive parents. By 8 years old she was largely under the control of husband-and-wife talent managers who soon found her work on soap operas and print advertising.
In the meantime, they supplied her with alcohol and prescription drugs, which accelerated the effects of her undiagnosed bipolar disorder.
In her 1988 memoir, “Call Me Anna,” Duke wrote of her condition and its diagnosis only six years earlier, and of the treatment that subsequently stabilized her life.
With the end of “The Patty Duke Show” in 1966, Duke leaped into adulthood in the 1967 melodrama “Valley of the Dolls,” which was critically slammed but a commercial smash.