Patty Duke: American actress (1946 - 2016) | Biography
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Patty Duke
American actress

Patty Duke

Patty Duke
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actress
A.K.A. Anna Marie Duke
Was Actor Television actor Film actor Singer Politician Stage actor Activist Trade unionist
From United States of America
Field Activism Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music Politics
Gender female
Birth 14 December 1946, Queens, USA
Death 29 March 2016, Coeur d'Alene, USA (aged 69 years)
Star sign Sagittarius
Spouse: John Astin
Children: Sean AstinMackenzie Astin
Height: 1.524 m
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress 1963
Theatre World Award 1960
Pop music
Patty Duke
The details (from wikipedia)


Anna Marie "Patty" Duke (December 14, 1946 – March 29, 2016) was an American actress and health advocate. Over the course of her acting career, she was the recipient of an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

At age 15, Duke portrayed Helen Keller in the film The Miracle Worker (1962), a role that she had originated on Broadway. She won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. The following year, she played the dual role of "identical cousins" Cathy and Patty Lane on her own show The Patty Duke Show (1963–1966). She progressed to more mature roles, such as Neely O'Hara in the film Valley of the Dolls (1967) and Natalie Miller in the film Me, Natalie (1969). The latter earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical. From 1985 to 1988, she served as president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982. Following her diagnosis, she devoted much of her time to advocating for and educating the public on mental health. She was also an occasional singer and author.

Early life

Duke was born in Manhattan, New York, the youngest of three children of Frances Margaret (née McMahon; 1913–1993), a cashier, and John Patrick Duke (1913–1964), a handyman and cab driver. She was of Irish, and more distant German, descent.

Duke, her brother Raymond, and her sister Carol experienced a difficult childhood. Their father was an alcoholic, and their mother suffered from clinical depression and was prone to violence. When Duke was six, her mother forced her father to leave the family home. When Duke was eight, her care was turned over to talent managers John and Ethel Ross, who, after promoting Patty's brother, were looking for a girl to add to their stable of child actors.

The Rosses' methods of managing Duke's career were often unscrupulous and exploitative. They consistently billed Duke as being two years younger than she actually was and padded her resume with false credits. They gave her alcohol and prescription drugs, took unreasonably high fees from her earnings and made sexual advances to her. She never saw her father and saw her mother only when she visited to do the Rosses' laundry. In addition, the Rosses made Duke change her name. "Anna Marie is dead," they said. "You're Patty now." They hoped that Patty Duke would duplicate the success of Patty McCormack.




One of Duke's early acting roles was in the late 1950s on the soap opera The Brighter Day. She also appeared in print ads and in television commercials. In 1959, at the age of 12, Duke appeared on The $64,000 Question and won $32,000; her category of expertise, according to her autobiography “Call Me Anna”, was popular music. In 1962, it was revealed that the game show had been rigged, and she was called to testify before a panel of the United States Senate. Duke eventually testified before congressional investigators—and broke into tears when she admitted she'd been coached to speak falsely.

Duke at the beginning of her long career

Also in 1959, Duke appeared in a television adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis as Tootie Smith, the role that had been originated in the film version by Margaret O'Brien. Duke's first major starring role was Helen Keller, (with Anne Bancroft as Anne Sullivan), in the Broadway play The Miracle Worker, which ran from October 1959 to July 1961. Duke originated the role of Keller on Broadway. During the run, Duke's name was elevated above the play's title on the theater's billboard, believed to be the first time this had been done for such a young star. The play was subsequently made into a 1962 film for which Duke received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; before the film started shooting, the actress and activist briefly met. At 16, Duke was the youngest person at that time to have received an Academy Award in a competitive category. Duke returned to television, this time starring with Laurence Olivier and George C. Scott in a television production of The Power and the Glory (1961).

Duke with Helen Keller, whom she portrayed in both the play and the film The Miracle Worker (1962)

Duke's own series, The Patty Duke Show, created by Sidney Sheldon especially for her, began airing in September 1963. At that time, it was not known that Duke had bipolar disorder, but Sheldon did notice that she had two distinct sides to her personality and thus developed the concept of identical cousins with contrasting personalities. Duke portrayed both main characters: Patricia "Patty" Lane, a fun-loving American teenager who occasionally got into trouble at school and home, and her prim and proper "identical cousin" from Scotland, Catherine "Cathy" Lane. William Schallert portrayed Patty's father, Martin as well as his twin brother Kenneth- Cathy's father; Jean Byron played her mother, Natalie; Paul O'Keefe was her younger brother, Ross; and Eddie Applegate portrayed her boyfriend, Richard Harrison (though the actor was married and several years Duke's senior.) The show also featured such high-profile guest stars as Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, Paul Lynde, and Sal Mineo. The series lasted three seasons and earned Duke an Emmy Award nomination. In 1999, the program's characters were revisited and updated in The Patty Duke Show: Still Rockin' in Brooklyn Heights, with Cindy Williams taking on the villain role of Sue Ellen Turner when Kitty Sullivan was unable to reprise her role.

After the cancellation of The Patty Duke Show in 1966, Duke began her adult acting career by playing Neely O'Hara in Valley of the Dolls (1967). The film was a box-office success, but audiences and critics had a difficult time accepting all-American-teenager Duke as an alcoholic, drug-addicted singing star. While the film has since become a camp classic—thanks in large part to Duke's over-the-top performance—at the time it almost ruined her career. In 1969, Duke starred in Me, Natalie, in which she played an "ugly duckling" Brooklyn teenager struggling to make a life for herself in the Bohemian world of Greenwich Village. Duke won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) for the role.

Duke as Patty Lane on The Patty Duke Show, 1965

Duke returned to television in 1970, starring in a made-for-TV movie, My Sweet Charlie. Her portrayal of a pregnant teenager on the run won Duke her first Emmy Award. Her acceptance speech was rambling and disjointed, leading many in the industry to believe she was drunk or using drugs at the time. In fact, Duke was experiencing a manic phase of her bipolar disorder, which would remain undiagnosed until 1982. She received her second Emmy in 1977 for the TV miniseries Captains and the Kings and her third in 1980 for a TV version of her 1979 stage revival of The Miracle Worker, this time playing Anne Sullivan to Melissa Gilbert's Helen Keller. Her turns in the made-for-TV movies The Women's Room (1980) and George Washington (1984) both garnered her Emmy nominations. In the 1980s, Duke was cast in a number of short-lived TV series: the ABC sitcom It Takes Two, from Soap and Benson creator Susan Harris, was cancelled after one season; Hail to the Chief, in which she appeared as the first female President of the United States; and a comedy, Karen's Song, which aired on the fledgling Fox network.

Duke's film roles in the 1980s included the Canadian film By Design (1981), which garnered her a Genie Award nomination for Best Foreign Actress, and the made-for-TV movie A Time to Triumph (1986), the true story of Concetta Hassan, a woman who struggles to support her family after her husband is injured but who eventually becomes a United States Army helicopter pilot. In 1990, Duke's autobiography, Call Me Anna, was adapted for television; she played herself from her mid thirties onward. In 1992, Duke portrayed the mother of Meg Ryan's character in the film adaptation of the play Prelude to a Kiss. Duke received an Emmy nomination in 1999 for her appearances in three episodes of Touched by an Angel.

In 1985, Duke became the second woman, after Kathleen Nolan, to be elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, a post she held until 1988. Her tenure as president was marked by factional in-fighting and controversy; however, she gained respect for managing to maintain solidarity among the guild's members. During her term, she led industrial actions and contract negotiations and oversaw the relocation of the guild's headquarters.

Later years

Duke gradually reduced her work schedule in the 2000s but took occasional TV roles, including guest appearances on shows such as Glee and the reboot of Hawaii Five-0. In 2011, she joined the cast of the drama The Protector. She also returned to the stage on occasion — in 2002 as Aunt Eller in a revival of Oklahoma! on Broadway and in 2009 as Madame Morrible in the San Francisco production of the musical Wicked. In May 2011, Duke directed the stage version of The Miracle Worker at the now defunct Interplayers Theater in Spokane, Washington. In 2010, she hosted a PBS TV special “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling: An Irish Parade Of Stars”. The special was part of the My Music series, and featured Irish and Irish-American folk music and sentimental standards.

Duke reprising her role as Cathy Lane in a series of U.S. Government Social Security promos for filing for Social Security online, 2011

In 2011, Duke appeared in public service announcements for the U.S. Government, promoting the social security website. In several, she appeared as Patty and Cathy using split-screen effects. In others, she appeared with George Takei wearing a Star Trek-like costume. In 2015, Duke made her final TV appearance, guest-starring on Liv and Maddie as Grandma Janice and Great-aunt Hilary, a pair of identical twins.


Like many teen stars of the era, and bolstered somewhat by her appearance in the musical Billie , Duke had a successful singing career, including two Top 40 hits in 1965, "Don't Just Stand There" (#8) and "Say Something Funny" (#22). She also performed on TV shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show.

Mental health advocacy

In 1987, Duke revealed in her autobiography that she had been diagnosed with manic depression (now called bipolar disorder) in 1982, becoming one of the first public figures to speak out about personal experience of mental illness. She also suffered from anorexia and during her teenage years weighed as little as 76 pounds. She attempted suicide in 1967 and was again hospitalized for mental health problems in 1969, eventually being diagnosed as manic depressive in 1982. Her treatment, which included the use of lithium as a medication and therapy, successfully stabilized her moods. She subsequently became an activist for mental health causes. She lobbied the United States Congress and joined forces with the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Alliance on Mental Illness in order to increase awareness, funding and research for people with mental illness. In 2007, Duke appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, talking about her bipolar disorder.


Duke wrote three books: her autobiography, Call Me Anna (ISBN 0-553-27205-5) in 1987 and Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness (ISBN 0-553-56072-7) in 1992. A third book, In The Presence of Greatness—My Sixty Year Journey as an Actress (ISBN 9781629332352) (with William J. Jankowski), is a collection of essays about the actress's experiences with other artists and celebrities. It was published posthumously in February 2018.


Over the course of her career, Duke received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, three Emmy Awards amongst 10 nominations, and two Golden Globe Awards amongst four nominations. In 1963, when she won her Academy Award, Duke became the youngest person to ever win an Academy Award in a competitive category.

On August 17, 2004, Duke received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to the motion picture industry. On December 14, 2007, her 61st birthday, Duke was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters degree from the University of North Florida for her work in advancing awareness of mental health issues. On March 6, 2010, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Personal life

Duke was married four times and had three children. A Roman Catholic, Duke had dreams of becoming a nun in her youth.

In 1965, Duke married director Harry Falk, who was 13 years her senior. This led to the end of Duke's relationship with her abusive childhood guardians the Rosses. During their marriage, she had repeated mood swings, drank heavily, became anorexic and overdosed on pills a number of times. The couple divorced in 1969.

In early 1970, at the age of 23, Duke became involved with three men at the same time: 17-year-old Here's Lucy star Desi Arnaz, Jr., actor John Astin, who was 16 years her senior, and rock promoter Michael Tell. The relationship with Arnaz was widely publicized, due in part to the vocal and public opposition of Arnaz's mother, actress and production company executive Lucille Ball. By late spring, Duke and Arnaz had broken off their relationship.

In June 1970, Duke learned she was pregnant and married Michael Tell on June 26, 1970, during a manic phase, in order to "give (her child) a name". Their marriage lasted 13 days before ending in an annulment on July 9, 1970; Her son, actor Sean Astin, was born on February 25, 1971. Duke said in her 1987 autobiography that the marriage to Tell was never consummated and that Astin was the actual biological father of Sean. There were several chapters emphasizing the falsehood about her relationship with Tell and the paternity of her son. She later told Sean that Arnaz Jr. was Sean's biological father. It turned out that all three statements were incorrect: in 1994, when Sean Astin underwent biological testing to determine his paternity, the results showed that Tell was his biological father.

Duke married John Astin in August 1972. Astin adopted Sean and the couple had a 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". During this period, Duke underwent a hysterectomy. Duke adopted Astin's three sons, and years later in 1998 Astin's sons reversed the adoption with Duke's approval. The couple divorced in 1985.

Duke married her fourth husband, drill sergeant Michael Pearce, in 1986, and remained married to him until her death 30 years later. Duke and Pearce had met during the production of A Time to Triumph, for which Pearce served as a consultant. The couple moved to Hayden, Idaho and adopted a son, Kevin, who was born in 1988. From her marriage to Pearce until her death in 2016, Duke occasionally used the name "Anna Duke-Pearce" in her writings and other professional work.

Duke had three granddaughters by her eldest son Sean: actresses Alexandra, Elizabeth, and Isabella.


Duke died on the morning of March 29, 2016, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho of sepsis from a ruptured intestine at the age of 69. Sean invited the public to contribute to a mental health foundation in his mother's name, the Patty Duke Mental Health Initiative. She is interred at Forest Cemetery in Coeur d'Alene.

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1963 Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress The Miracle Worker Nominated
1963 Golden Globe Award Most Promising Newcomer - Female The Miracle Worker Won
1963 Academy Awards Best Actress in a Supporting Role The Miracle Worker Won
1963 Laurel Awards Top Female Supporting Performance The Miracle Worker Won
1964 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actress in a Series (Lead) The Patty Duke Show Nominated
1966 Golden Globe Award Best TV Star - Female The Patty Duke Show Nominated
1966 Laurel Awards Musical Performance, Female Billie Nominated
1970 Laurel Awards Female Dramatic Performance Me, Natalie Nominated
1970 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role My Sweet Charlie Won
1970 Golden Globe Award Best Actress - Comedy or Musical Me, Natalie Won
1977 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series Captains and Kings Won
1978 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama or Comedy Special A Family Upside Down Nominated
1978 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series Having Babies III Nominated
1980 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special The Miracle Worker Won
1981 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement - Children's Programming The Girl on the Edge of Town Nominated
1981 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special The Women's Room Nominated
1983 Genie Awards Best Performance by a Foreign Actress By Design Nominated
1983 People's Choice Awards Favorite Female Performer in a New TV Program Won
1984 Daytime Emmy Award Outstanding Individual Achievement in Religious Programming - Performers Insight Nominated
1984 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special George Washington Nominated
1984 Western Heritage Awards Fictional Television Drama September Gun Won
1999 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Touched by an Angel Nominated
2002 Temecula Valley International Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award Won
2003 TV Land Award Favorite Dual Role Character The Patty Duke Show Nominated
2004 TV Land Award Favorite Dual Role Character The Patty Duke Show Won
2014 Online Film & Television Association OFTA TV Hall of Fame Won



Title & Billboard Peak Position Label Year Notes
Don't Just Stand There (#90)  United Artists UAL 3452 (Mono)/UAS 6452 (Stereo)  1965
Patty  United Artists UAL 3492 / UAS 6492  1966
Patty Duke's Greatest Hits  United Artists UAL 3535 / UAS 6535  1966
TV's Teen Star  Unart M 20005 (Mono)/S 21005 (Stereo)  1967
Songs from Valley of The Dolls and Other Selections  United Artists UAL 3623 / UAS 6623  1967
Patty Duke Sings Folk Songs: Time To Move On  United Artists UAL 3650 / UAS 6650 (Unreleased ) 1968 Note: After years of remaining unreleased, Patty Duke Sings Folk Songs: Time To Move On was finally released by Real Gone Music (under Capitol records) on CD and digital download in 2013.


Year Titles (A-side, B-side) Record Label Peak chart positions Album
1965 "Don't Just Stand There"
United Artists 875 8 6 Don't Just Stand There
"Say Something Funny" / United Artists 915 22 31
"Funny Little Butterflies" 77 51 Patty Duke's Greatest Hits
1966 "Whenever She Holds You"
United Artists 978 64 63 Patty
"Little Things Mean A Lot"
United Artists 50034
"The Wall Came Tumbling Down"
United Artists 50057 Non-album tracks
"Why Don't They Understand"
United Artists 50073 Don't Just Stand There
1967 "Come Live With Me"
United Artists 50216 Songs From 'Valley Of The Dolls
1968 "And We Were Strangers"
United Artists 50299 Patty Duke Sings Folk Songs
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 19 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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