Patty Duke was a child star who won an Academy Award for her performance as Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker."
Duke's life was marked with both success and struggle, with the earliest years of her life marred by an alcoholic father and a violently depressive mother. From the time she was 8, Duke was raised by talent managers John and Ethel Ross. In her memoir "Call Me Anna," Duke revealed that the Rosses left her little control over her career or life and began supplying her with alcohol and prescription medication when she was 13.
In 1959, Duke debuted as Helen Keller in the Broadway production of "The Miracle Worker" with Anne Bancroft. The play later was adapted into a film that earned both Duke and Bancroft Oscars. At the time, Duke was 16 and the youngest person to receive an Oscar in a competitive category.
"It seems like a dream," she told The Times in 1963 after her Oscar win. "I'm still not sure if it happened. When they announced it, I just sat there. I couldn't move."
She made her television debut on "The Patty Duke Show" in 1963. On the show, she played both main characters Patricia "Patty" Lane, all-American teenager, and Catherine "Cathy" Lane, her identical cousin from Scotland.
The show had a catchy theme song — "Where Cathy adores a minuet / the Ballet Russes and crÄpes suzette / our Patty loves to rock and roll / a hot dog makes her lose control — what a wild duet!" – and boasted such guest stars Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Frankie Avalon, Sal Mineo and the British pop duo Chad and Jeremy.
In addition to being an actress, Duke also was an advocate for mental illness awareness, after her own diagnosis with bipolar disorder in 1982. Duke credited medication and therapy for helping her recovery; she was the first celebrity, via her 1987 autobiography, to make her struggle with bipolar disorder public.
Duke died March 29, 2016, of sepsis from a ruptured intestine, at a hospital near her home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She was 69.
— Libby Hill for the Los Angeles Times
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