Patty Duke died on March 29, 2016, of sepsis from a ruptured intestine. When famous people die, a lot of people think about what they remember about them. Patty Duke was indeed an interesting person, but people do not know some interesting things about her.
First of all, Patty Duke was not her real name. The actress of stage, film and television was born Anna Marie Duke on Dec. 14, 1946. Talent manager Ethel Ross changed the child actress’ name. Ross said, “Anna Marie is dead; you’re Patty now.” She hoped that “Patty Duke” would duplicate the success of child actress Patty McCormack
Duke first became known as a teen star, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at age 16 for her role as Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker” in 1962. Duke was the youngest person at that time to have received an Academy Award in a competitive category. The following year she was given her own show, “The Patty Duke Show,” in which she played “identical cousins.” She later progressed to more mature roles such as that of Neely O’Hara in the film “Valley of the Dolls” in 1967. Over the course of her career, she received ten Emmy Award nominations and three Emmy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards. Duke also served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985 to 1988.
Most people don’t know that Patty Duke was a successful singer. Her singing career included two Top 40 hits in 1965, “Don’t Just Stand There” (#8) and “Say Something Funny” (#22). She also sang on TV shows such as “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
Duke authored two books: her autobiography, “Call Me Anna”in 1987, and “Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness” in 1992. On Aug. 17, 2004, Duke received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the motion picture industry. Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982, after which she devoted much of her time to advocating for and educating the public on mental health issues. She had the leading role in the 2011 series “The Protector” where the character was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, paralleling Patty’s real-life condition.
Duke was married four times and had three children. In 1965, Duke married director Harry Falk, who was 13 years her senior. During their marriage, she had repeated mood swings, drank heavily, became anorexic and overdosed on pills a number of times.They had no children together, and the couple divorced in 1969.
At the age of 23 in the 1970s, Duke dated 17-year-old Desi Arnaz, Jr. The couple’s relationship was widely publicized, due in part to the vocal and public opposition of Arnaz’s mother, actress Lucille Ball. Duke and Arnaz broke off their relationship, and she began dating actor John Astin who was 16 years her senior.
Around the same time, Duke developed an intimate relationship with rock promoter Michael Tell. In June 1970, Duke learned she was pregnant and married Michael Tell on June 26, 1970, to “give her child a name.” Their marriage lasted 13 days before ending in an annulment on July 9, 1970.
Duke’s son, actor Sean Astin, was born on Feb. 25, 1971. Duke and John Astin were married in August 1972. Astin adopted Sean and the couple had another son, actor Mackenzie Astin, in 1973. Duke and Astin worked together extensively during their marriage, and she took his name professionally, becoming “Patty Duke Astin.” The couple divorced in 1985.
Duke married her fourth husband, drill sergeant Michael Pearce, in 1986. They adopted a son, Kevin, who was born in 1988. From her marriage to Pearce until her death, Duke occasionally used the name “Anna Duke-Pearce” in her writings and other professional work.
Duke had three granddaughters by her eldest son Sean, actress Alexandra “Ali” Astin, Elizabeth and Isabella. After his mother’s death, Sean Astin invited the public to contribute to a mental health foundation in his mother’s name, the Patty Duke Mental Health Initiative.
Patty Duke played in more than 140 film and television roles. The public will miss Patty Duke, but her legacy will live on through the great work she leaves behind.