Patty Duke, a teen star who won an Oscar for “The Miracle Worker” and the performed as an identical cousin in her own television situation comedy series has died. She passed at the age of 69 according to a USA Today report on Tuesday. One of her representatives, Mitchell Stubs confirmed the report. Born Anna Pearce, Patty Duke died at 1:20 AM. The cause of death was a sepsis from a ruptured intestine.
Duke was born in Elmhurst, Queens, New York. She was the youngest of three children born to Frances, a cashier, and John Brock Duke, a handyman and cab driver. She was of German and Irish descent. She did well after experiencing a difficult childhood as her father was an alcoholic and her mother was clinically depressed. After her mother became a single parent, she made talent managers John and Ethel Ross young Duke’s caregivers. They added her to their list of child actors. It was Ethel Ross who discarded Duke’s name of Anna Marie and proclaimed her new name was Patty.
Duke also had a recording career. She sang on such shows as “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “Shindig!” She had two hit records in 1965. One of them, “Don’t Just Stand There,” was a top ten hit as it reached number 8 on the national record charts. Her other successful recording, “Say Something Funny” reached number 22.
Her current representative said in a statement that she was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate, and a cultural icon. The statement said, “She will be greatly missed,” according to ABC News. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress when she was just 16 years old for her role in “The Miracle Worker,” which had originated on Broadway. Her very popular sitcom was called “The Patty Duke Show.” She also made a name for herself as she matured by playing more mature motion picture roles, such as playing Neely O’Hara in “Valley of the Dolls” in 1967. From 1985 through 1988, she held the prestigious position of president of the Screen Actors Guild. Twenty years ago, she was honored by being ranked number 40 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time.
Some three weeks ago, Duke took to social media and communicated with her followers on Twitter. Her last tweets were positive as she messaged that she had been absent but not far away. She said, “I love and miss you all.” And then she stated that she had hoped to be back online more often in the future. That message came on the first day of this month. Two weeks later, on March 15, she messaged on her wedding anniversary by saying that she had gotten married to Mike 30 years ago that day – and she was having a very happy and quiet day with him.