Oscar-Winning Actress Patty Duke Dies Aged 69

Legendary, Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke has passed away at the age of 69. She died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine, her manager confirmed. 

Duke, born Anna Marie Duke, won her Oscar in 1963 for her performance as Helen Keller in ‘The Miracle Worker’ and was well-known, in the US especially, for her starring role in ‘The Patty Duke Show’ - which ran for three seasons in the 60s.

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“She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be greatly missed,” said her manager  Mitchell Stubbs (via Variety). 

Duke won her Supporting Actress Oscar at just sixteen years-of-age, making her the youngest person to ever win an acting prize at the time. 

Duke’s son, actor Sean Astin (best known for playing Sam in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy) issued a statement on behalf of his family. It read: “This morning, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother, matriarch and the exquisite artist, humanitarian, and champion for mental health, Anna ‘Patty Duke’ Pearce, closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place. 

“We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life.”

Following the success of ‘The Patty Duke Show’ - in which she played two cousins with wildly different personalities - the actress began to suffer from mental illness and drug addiction. 

Following her breakout TV role she shook up her wholesome image by playing a drug-addicted, alcoholic singer in ‘Valley of the Dolls’ - released in 1967. 

Duke overcame her problems to become a noted mental health activist. She went on to serve for three years as president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) from 1985-1988. 

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Picture Credits: WENN