Patty Duke, star of stage and screen, died Tuesday morning. The cause was sepsis from a ruptured intestine.
Duke gained early fame when at only 13 years old she was cast in the Broadway play The Miracle Worker, the story of Hellen Keller, the blind and deaf activist who learned to communicate with the help of teacher Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft). When the show was make into a film in 1962, Duke won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Duke went on to star in her own television program, The Patty Duke Show, in which she played lookalike cousins with differing personalities. Although the show was a pop cultural phenomenon, Duke later said she was miserable making it, and claimed to have been exploited by the show’s producers. In order to break out of her squeaky-clean image after the cancellation of her TV show she immediately took the role of drug-and-alcohol-addicted Neely O’Hara in Valley of the Dolls (1967). The wild, scenery-chewing performance almost ruined Duke’s career.
Duke continued in television throughout her life, starring in numerous series, and often had small roles in movies. She was president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985 to 1988, only the second woman to have the job.
Her son, Sean Astin, is also an actor, and is famous for The Lord of the Rings films, in which he starred as Samwise Gamgee.