HOLLYWOOD—Actress Patty Duke died on Tuesday, March 29, at the age of 69. She died in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho of sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She leaves behind three children, Sean Astin, Mackenzie Astin, and Kevin Pearce, and her husband Michael Pearce.
Duke was born Anna Marie Duke on December 14, 1946 in Elmhurst, New York. She began her long acting career in 1959 with her most famous role as Helen Keller in the Broadway play “The Miracle Worker” and then in the 1962 movie adaptation. The movie won her an Academy Award for best supporting actress at the age of 16 making her the youngest person to ever win an Oscar at the time.
“The Miracle Worker” set off her career, and what followed was her own show, “The Patty Duke Show” in 1963. It ran for three seasons. She also starred in the movies “Billie,” “Valley of the Dolls,” “Me, Natalie,” and the mini-series “Captains and the Kings.”
In the 70s, she gave birth to two sons, Sean and Mackenzie, both actors. Mackenzie is known for his roles in “The Facts of Life,” “In Love and War,” and “Iron Will.” Sean is known for his roles in “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy and the TV series “The Strain.” In 1989, she and her husband Michael Pearce adopted their son, Kevin.
In 1982, Duke was diagnosed with manic-depressive illness. She wrote an autobiography titled, Call Me Anna and wrote another discussing her illness titled A Brilliant Madness, Living with Manic Depressive Illness. In her life she was a political advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment, AIDs and nuclear disarmament, and was the President of the Screen Actors Guild.
“I’ve beaten my own bad system, and on some days, most days, that feels like a miracle,” said Patty Duke.