Patty Duke

Patty Duke

Elmhurst, New York
December 14
Date of passing: 
March 29, 2016







Patty Duke was an actress who began her career as a child star, and was an Oscar and Golden Globe winner at the age of 16 for her role as deaf and blind Helen Keller in the 1962 film The Miracle Worker, opposite Anne Bancroft as Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan. 

Also at 16, Duke became the youngest person at that time to have a television series bearing her name. The Patty Duke Show, which ran for three seasons on ABC, starred the actress as a pair of look-alike cousins: American Patty Lane and English Cathy Lane.

She was nominated for her first Emmy Award in 1964 for the dual roles, and over the course of her career she received a total of 10 Emmy nominations. She won three times: for her role in the telefilm My Sweet Charlie, the miniseries Captains and the Kings and the 1979 TV adaptation of The Miracle Worker, in which Duke played Anne Sullivan, with Melissa Gilbert as Helen Keller.

Duke also appeared on numerous episodic series Ben Casey, The Virginian, Hawaii Five-O, Police Woman, Marcus Welby, M.D., It Takes Two, Insight, The Love Boat, It’s a Living, Frasier, Family Law, Touched by an Angel, Judging Amy and Glee.

She also appeared in several films, including Happy Anniversary, with David Niven, Mitzi Gaynor and Carl Reiner; Valley of the Dolls; The Swarm, with Michael Caine and Katharine Ross; Prelude to a Kiss, with Meg Ryan, Alec Baldwin and Kathy Bates; Bigger Than the Sky, with Amy Smart and John Corbett; and Amazing Love, in which she appeared opposite her son, Sean Astin, of Lord of the Rings and Rudy fame.

Duke first appeared on television in 1954 on an episode of The Brighter Day. In 1959, at only 13 years old, she appeared in the Broadway version of The Miracle Worker. She won rave reviews and her name was raised above the title of the play — she is believed to be the first to have her name above the title at such an early age. For her performance, she won the Theater World Award for most promising newcomer.

In 1985, she began a three-year run as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Four years later, she released her autobiography, Call Me Anna; the book was adapted into a 1990 ABC telefilm, which she both produced and starred in.

In addition to her work in the entertainment industry, Duke, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the early 1980s, was an outspoken advcocate for mental health awareness.

Duke died March 29, 2016, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. She was 69.