Patty Duke was an American actress known for her expertise in stage, television and TV movies. She began acting at quite an early age – 16 and won an Academy Award for her role as Helen Keller in the 1982 blockbuster – The Miracle Worker.

Patty Duke – Biography

Patty Duke was born on December 14, 1946, in Elmhurst, Queens, New York to John Patrick Duke (handyman, cab 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 was a victim of violence, Duke and her two older siblings had the most difficult childhood that can only be imagined than experienced.

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Career

At the age of eight, 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 molestation and abuse in the hands of the Rosses whom she revealed gave her alcohol, drugged, sexually molested and cheated her of her earnings by taking unreasonably high fees from her.


She first began with Ad commercials before landing a few movie roles here and there. One of her earliest roles was in the soap opera The Brighter Day which aired in the late 1950s. Patty Duke also featured in a television adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis where she portrayed the role of Tootie Smith, the role that was originally in the film version by Margaret O’Brien. Her breakthrough came when she starred as Helen Keller in 1962 Broadway play The Miracle Worker, which aired from October 1959 to July 1961.

Her performance in the film, earned her an Academy Award at the age of 16, making her the youngest recipient of the award at that time. She also won the Golden Globe.

With the success of The Miracle Worker, by 1962, Duke was already starring on her own sitcom called The Patty Duck Show. The show was on for three seasons and led to her very first Emmy nomination.

She also got involved in music which was a huge success. With her top 10 debut album Don’t Just Stand There, Patty became a name to reckon with in the world of entertainment. In 1967, she starred in the cult classic Valley of The Dolls and indie film Me, Natalie in 1969 which earned her a second Golden Globe Award. Before then, Duke had won a second Emmy for her role in a  mini-series Captains and the Kings.

By the 1980s, Duke had paid her dues in the industry. From 1985 – 1988, she was president of the Screen Actors Guild. She remained active in the industry until her unfortunate demise 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.

Patty Duke – Dead, Cause Of Death

The veteran actress died on March 29, 2016, in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. She was 69. A statement released by her representative revealed that the actress died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine.

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Patty Duke’s Family, Son, Spouse

Patty Duke
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Duke had a handful of men in her life. She was married four times. Her first marriage was at the age of 19 to Harry Falk – their union lasted from 1965 to 1969.

At age 23, Duke was romantically involved with Desi Arnaz, actor John Astin and rock promoter Michael Tell all at the same time. By spring of the same year, she broke off her relationship with Arnaz. Soon after her break -up, Duke discovered she was pregnant and to give her child a name, she married Michael Tell but the marriage lasted for just 13 days.

In her autobiography released in 1987, Patty revealed that her marriage to Tell was never consummated and that Astin was actually the biological father of her son Sean born in 1970. In 1972, she married Astin and they had a second son – Mackenzie in 1973. They were married for 13 years before going their separate ways in 1985.

After her third marriage failed, Duke got 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.

Patty Duke
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Wiki, Other Facts

Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982.  She wrote an autobiography which was made into a TV movie in 1990 in which she played herself and also served 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 providing support to those suffering from the disorder.

Duke teamed up with the National Institute of Mental Health and National Alliance on Mental Illness to increase public awareness, funding and research for people with mental illness. In 2007, Oprah featured her on her show where she talked about her struggle with bipolar disorder.

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