Wednesday, 30 March 2016


Academy Award winning actor, mental health advocate and beloved star of film and TV, Patty Duke has died at age 69. She passed yesterday, the 29th of March 2016, from sepsis as the result of a ruptured intestine. One of the most popular American child performers of the 1960s, Duke's star rose suddenly when she won a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her performance as Helen Keller in 1962's The Miracle Worker. This kicked off a long and varied career, mainly in TV; the eponymous star of The Patty Duke Show would earn nine Emmy nominations over the course of her career, winning three Primetime Emmy awards. Her personal life was often troubled - daughter to a depressed mother and an alcoholic father, she was exploited and abused by her adoptive guardians Ethel and John Ross. They stole most of the money she earned and got her hooked on various addictive substances, contributing to her drug addiction and alcoholism in later life. Also suffering anorexia as an adult, Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982 at the late age of 35 - she dedicated much of her subsequent career to raising awareness about the issue, and was the first celebrity to publicly declare their bipolar diagnosis. Alongside The Miracle Worker, this most honourable of actors will be remembered for her roles in Valley of the Dolls, The Swarm, and a great deal of prominent TV credits, as well as her tenure as the President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985 to 1988. Married four times, she is survived by her three children - actors Sean and Mackenzie Astin from her third marriage, and Kevin Pearce from her fourth to her widower Michael - and three grandchildren - Sean's daughters Ali, Elizabeth and Isabella.