Patty Duke, born Anna Marie Duke, died In Idaho this morning from sepsis resulting from a ruptured intestine.
Patty Duke started her career as a young girl in William Gibson’s stage production of The Miracle Worker, in which Patty played a young deaf and blind Helen Keller, opposite Anne Bancroft (her teacher, Anne Sullivan).
Locked in a frightening, lonely world of silence and darkness since infancy, 7-year-old Helen Keller has never seen the sky, heard her mother’s voice or expressed her innermost feelings. Then Annie Sullivan, a 20-year-old teacher from Boston, arrives. Having just recently regained her own sight, the no-nonsense Annie reaches out to Helen through the power of touch the only tool they have in common and leads her bold pupil on a miraculous journey from fear and isolation to happiness and light.
The Miracle Worker was subsequently made into a movie, for which Patty received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Here’s Patty in the famous Water scene from the movie.
And here’s young speechless Patty receiving her Oscar in 1962:
As a teen, Patty became a Household Word in homes across the USA with The Patty Duke Show, in which she played an innovative ‘doppelganger’ role as identical teenage cousins who looked the same but were distinctly different.
All across America, millions of parents swore their daughters were just like Patty and wished they were more like Cathy.
The list of Patty Duke’s Filmography achievements as actor, writer and producer is so long I dare not post it here. You can see it here at her IMDB page. Make coffee first.
As if her notable work as an actor weren’t enough, Patty wasn’t done having an impact on the country. In her mind, she still had something very important to do:
From when she was a teenager, Patty suffered from undiagnosed Manic-Depressive Disorder. She was diagnosed at age 35 and promised herself that she would do all she could to make sure nobody suffered from this illness as she had. She spoke before Congress and appeared in as many places she could to promote knowledge of mental illness in general and of Manic-Depression in particular. Through her candid and amazingly articulate style, Patty Duke managed to educate an entire country about the disorder known today as “Bipolar Disorder”
Here is Patty on 20-20 in 1989, discussing her illness and her rise from the “black hole”.
Part 1 (You can follow Part 2 at the end of this segment)
One would think that Patty would be done and just rest on her laurels after all of these achievements. But Nope. Patty as a Senior became the Spokesperson for Social Security. Baby Boomers all over America who visited their Social Security office were treated to a poster of an old friend smiling at them. Not to mention a boatload of PSAs.
Rest well Patty. You contributed much to many.
You still rock.
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