Patty Duke was an American actress known for her expertise on stage, television, and television movies. She began acting at a fairly early age – 16 years old – and won an Oscar for her role as Helen Keller in the blockbuster The Miracle Worker in 1982.
Patty Duke Biography
Patty Duke was born on December 14, 1946, in Elmhurst, Queens, New York as the son of John Patrick Duke (craftsman, taxi driver) and Frances Margaret (cashier). She is of Irish-German descent and the youngest of three children.
With a father who was an alcoholic and a mother who suffered from clinical depression and became a victim of violence, Duke and her two older siblings had the most difficult childhood imaginable and not experienced.
At the age of eight years, little Duke was introduced to acting by her brother’s (Raymond Duke) managers – John and Ethel Ross – who gave her the stage name Patty.
Patty was a victim of harassment and abuse at the hands of the Rosses who, as she revealed, gave her alcohol, drugged her, sexually harassed her, and cheated her out of her earnings by taking unreasonably high fees from her.
She first started with commercials before she landed a few film roles here and there. One of her earliest roles was in the soap opera The Brighter Day, which was broadcast in the late 1950s. Patty Duke also appeared in a television adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis, where she played the role of Tootie Smith, the role that originally appeared in the film adaptation of Margaret O’Brien. Her breakthrough came when she played the role of Helen Keller on Broadway in 1962 in the play The Miracle Worker, which was broadcast from October 1959 to July 1961.
Her performance in the film earned her an Oscar at the age of 16, making her the youngest recipient of the award at the time. She also won the Golden Globe.
With the success of The Miracle Worker in 1962, Duke starred in her own sitcom, The Patty Duck Show. The show ran for three seasons and led to her very first Emmy nomination.
She also became involved in music, which was a great success. With her top 10 debut album Don’t Just Stand There, Patty became a name to be reckoned with in the world of entertainment. In 1967 she played the lead role in the cult classic Valley of The Dolls and in 1969 in the indie film Me, Natalie, which earned her a second Golden Globe Award. Previously, Duke had won a second Emmy for her role in the mini-series Captains and the Kings.
By the 1980s, Duke had paid her dues in the industry. From 1985 to 1988 she was president of the Screen Actors Guild. She remained active in the industry until her unfortunate death in 2016. Her other works include The Rescue of Jessica McClure, Flight for Life, Everybody’s Baby: Family of Strangers When He Didn’t Come Home.
Dead, Cause Of Death
The veteran actress died on March 29, 2016, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. She was 69 years old. A statement released by her representative revealed that the actress died of sepsis from an intestinal rupture.
Patty Duke Family, Son, Spouse
Duchess had a handful of men in her life. She was married four times. Her first marriage was to Harry Falk at the age of 19 – their union lasted from 1965 to 1969.
At the age of 23, Duke was romantically involved with Desi Arnaz, actor John Astin and rock promoter Michael Tell at the same time. In the spring of the same year, she broke off her relationship with Arnaz. Shortly after their separation Duke discovered that she was pregnant and to give her child a name she married Michael Tell but the marriage lasted only 13 days.
In her autobiography published in 1987, Patty revealed that her marriage to Tell was never consummated and that Astin was indeed the biological father of her son Sean, born in 1970. She married Astin in 1972 and they had a second son – Mackenzie in 1973 and were married for 13 years before separating in 1985.
After their third marriage broke up, Duke married for the fourth time in 1986, this time to Drill Sergeant Michael Pearce. She remained married to him until her death in 2016. Patty and Pearce adopted a son, Kevin.
Wiki, Other Facts
Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982. She wrote an autobiography that became a television movie in 1990, in which she acted herself and also acted as co-producer.
Her second book A Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic Depression Illness was published in 1992. Inspired by her own struggles, Duke became an advocate for understanding mental health issues and supporting people suffering from the disease.
Duke joined forces with the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to promote public awareness, funding, and research for people with mental illness. In 2007, she appeared on her show on Oprah, where she spoke about her struggle with bipolar disorder.