Sean Astin, the 45-year-old son of Patty Duke, paid a heartbreaking tribute to his mother following her death on Tuesday at the age of 69. Along with a baby picture of him and his mom, Astin wrote the following on Instagram:
“OUR FAMILY STATEMENT ON THE PASSING OF PATTY DUKE: 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. Her work endures…”
Astin’s March 29 tribute to his mom is continued on the family’s website, The Patty Duke Mental Health Project. On the site, Astin says that “before her passing, before the suffering became too great, we talked about how the core mission of her mental health work might continue beyond her life.”
In his tribute on the website, Astin shares his mother’s story and how she touched tens of millions of people in a career that spanned six decades. Beginning from her groundbreaking role as Hellen Keller to fighting for civil rights, gay rights, and the right of working actors, Anne (Patty Duke’s real name) became “a voice for the voiceless and a reassuring presence for the scared, the intimidated and the lost.”
Patty Duke, who was born as Anna Marie Duke on December 14, 1946, in Elmhurst, Queens, New York, died on Tuesday morning at 1:20 a.m. at a hospital in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. Coeur D’Alene had been the home for Duke and her fourth husband Michael Pearce for the past 25 years.
“Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine,” which happened last Thursday according to Patty Duke’s husband.
In regard to how he is dealing with his mom’s death, Astin says that his mom, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982, knew all too well how death can spiral a loved one into despair, but she left him with one most important legacy – a sense of purpose.
“I feel rock solid at this moment because I’m charged with a sense of mission for her,” he said while speaking to Good Day LA on Tuesday about how he is dealing with his loss.
“So, it’s great to have purpose. There’s some things in her life that she’d like to continue after her, and we talked a lot after that. The moment of someone’s passing, particularly a public person, generates a pulse, so I just want to honor that.”
And he explained: “At that time in the mid-80’s, when she ‘went public’ with her diagnosis and sharing her story about her mania and her depression and all that. I don’t know how many actors or celebrities had, kind of, done that. I go around and give speeches on this kind of carrying the torch for her and stuff, and I would say that the world now is infinitely more understanding and compassionate, and yeah, there’s still stigma, but it’s a different world out there. And, I think she had a nice role to play in that evolution of our society, so we’re all very proud of her for that.”
As a mother, as a wife, a grandmother, friend, mental health advocate, and a cultural icon, Patty Duke will be dearly missed.