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Oscar Winner Patty Duke Dead at 69

Actress is Fondly Remembered for a Career Spanning Seven Decades

Former child star Patty Duke, who is remembered for her Academy Award winning performance as Helen Keller in 1962 theatrical “The Miracle Worker” and her dual role as Patty and Cathy Lane in 1960s sitcom “The Patty Duke Show” has died. She was 69 and the cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine.

Born Anna Marie Duke on December 14, 1946 in Elmhurst, New York, Anna Marie became Patty Duke when she was introduced to managers John and Ethel Ross. Patty began in commercials and a few movies and TV appearances in the 1950s (including six appearances on anthology “Armstrong Circle Theatre”). At 16, she became the then youngest person to win an Oscar (for Best Supporting Actress), which led to aforementioned “The Patty Duke Show” (and resulted in her first of eight Emmy Award nominations).

In 1965, Duke starred in “Billie,” which was the first movie ever sold to a television network. Other film roles at the time included “The Valley of the Dolls” in 1967 and “Me, Natalie” in 1969.

In a career spanning seven decades, Duke also won three Emmy Awards (for “My Sweet Charlie” in 1970, “Captains and the Kings” in 1977 and the TV version of “The Miracle Worker” in 1980), and two Golden Globes. In addition to “The Parry Duke Show,” she was a regular on sitcoms “It Takes Two,” “Hail to the Chief” and “Karen’s Song,” and 1995 drama “Amazing Grace,” which were all short-lived. She had a career as a singer with two Top 40 hits in 1965, “Don’t Just Stand There and Say Something Funny.” She wrote two books, “Call Me Anna” and “Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness.” And Duke was a political advocate for issues such as the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), AIDS and nuclear disarmament, all despite having being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.

Duke is survived by her husband of 30 years, Michael Pearce, three children, Sean and Mackenzie Astin and Kevin Pearce, and grandchildren.

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  1. Patty Duke will be missed. She had an amazing career – TV shows, movies, records, theater, author and advocate. I will be singing the theme song from The Patty Duke Show for weeks.

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