December 14, 1946
Elmhurst, New York, United States
March 29, 2016
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Harry Falk, John Astin, Michael Pearce, Michael Tell
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This petite, gifted former child performer had appeared in more than 50 television shows by the time she won Broadway fame at age 12 in "The Miracle Worker." Patty Duke won an Oscar for reprising her role as the young Helen Keller in the 1962 screen adaptation. In 1979, she won an Emmy for playing Keller's teacher--the role originally played on Broadway by Anne Bancroft--in a TV version of the same play. Duke made a successful transition to teen star playing vivacious twins on the popular TV series "The Patty Duke Show" (ABC, 1963-66). But after starring in the cult classic "Valley of the Dolls" (1967) and "Me, Natalie" (1969), she mostly concentrated on TV roles. Over her career, Duke won two other Emmy Awards, as a runaway pregnant Southerner befriended by a black lawyer in the TV-movie "My Sweet Charlie" (NBC, 1970) and as a mentally unstable wife in the NBC miniseries "Captains and the Kings" (1976). She played a rather sensuous Martha Washington in both "George Washington" (CBS, 1984) and "George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation" (CBS, 1986). Duke brought her warm maternal presence to "Always Remember I Love You" (CBS, 1990) and garnered praise as real-life journalist Betty Rollin who struggled to assist her mother (played by Maureen Stapleton) to die with dignity in "Last Wish" (ABC, 1992). In 1990, Duke co-produced and played herself in the small screen adaptation of her memoirs, "Call Me Anna" (ABC), which detailed her lifelong struggle with mental illness. After her initial success with her own sitcom, Duke failed to find an appropriate follow-up. She was wife to Richard Crenna and mother of Helen Hunt and Anthony Edwards in "It Takes Two" (ABC, 1982-83) and the first female President of the United States in the short-lived "Hail to the Chief" (ABC, 1985). Duke also played a woman involved with a younger man in the summer sitcom "Karen's Song" (Fox, 1987) and a woman who becomes a minister and moves to Idaho in "Amazing Grace" (NBC, 1995), which she also co-executive produced. An unglamorous, earnest performer, Duke most often played sensitive but troubled types who sometimes display an inner reserve of considerable strength but never lose their essential ordinariness. In her autobiography, she revealed details of her turbulent childhood and her victory over bipolar disorder, which she further chronicled in A Brilliant Madness: Living With Manic-Depressive Illness. Duke became only the second woman to be elected president of the Screen Actors Guild in 1985, resigning from the post in 1988. During her 1973-82 marriage to actor John Astin, she was billed as Patty Duke Astin; the couple's two sons, Sean and Mackenzie, went on to respectable acting careers of their own.