Patty Duke Dead at 69
“Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine,” the announcement reads. “She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be missed.” Born Anna Marie Duke in December 1946 in New York, she began acting in TV commercials, but her career took off after she was cast as blind and deaf Helen Keller in the Broadway version of The Miracle Worker in the late 1950s. Duke took the role to the big screen in 1962, and won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her portrayal. At 16, she became the youngest person ever to win an Oscar. Duke also starred in her own sitcom, The Patty Duke Show, in the early-to-mid 1960s and then made history in 1965 as the star of Billie, the first movie ever sold to a television network. Her other film credits include Valley of the Dolls, Me, Natalie, and A Family Upside Down, while she won Emmy Awards for the mini-series Captains and the Kings and the 1979 TV movie version of The Miracle Worker, in which she played Annie Sullivan. Duke became President of the Screen Actors Guild in the early 1980s. She opened up about her battle with manic depression in her 1987 autobiography Call Me Anna, which was turned into a TV movie in 1990. Duke played herself from her 30s onward. She wrote a second memoir, A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depression Illness, in 1992. Away from show business, she was a political advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment, AIDS, and nuclear disarmament. Duke recently alluded to her illness in a tweet to fans on March 1, writing,
She returned to social media on March 15 to mark her 30th wedding anniversary, tweeting,
Hi tweethearts and FB friends. I have been absent, but not far, believe me. I love and miss you all. Hopefully back more soon and often— Patty Duke (@pattyduke_id) March 1, 2016
Michael Pearce was the actress’ fourth husband. She was also married to actor John Astin. She leaves behind three kids: her adopted son Kevin Pearce, Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin, and actor Mackenzie Astin. Flowers will be placed on her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Tuesday afternoon.
30 years ago today, Mike and I married. We having a very happy and quiet day. Love and hugs to all— Patty Duke (@pattyduke_id) March 15, 2016