Patty Duke was a beloved American actress who rose to fame as a teenager, and remained a star until her passing in 2016. Fans of her were crushed by her loss, and they’ve worked hard to not forget her, even starting Instagram accounts to keep her memory alive. One year after her passing, we’re pleased to bring you a look back at her life.
Patty Duke was born Anna Marie Duke on December 14, 1946, in Queens, New York. Her parents were John Patrick Duke, a handyman and cab driver, and Frances Margaret McMahon, a cashier. She was the youngest of their three children; her siblings were a brother named Raymond and a sister named Carol. After her parents divorced, her mother helped Anna Marie get matched with two talent managers, who decided she would do better if she were known as Patty Duke.
When Patty was a young girl, she worked on smaller shows like the soap opera, “The Brighter Day,” “Meet Me In St. Louis,” and she was even on the game show, “The $64,000 Question.” Duke’s big break came when she played Helen Keller in the Broadway play, “The Miracle Worker,” from October, 1959 to July, 1961. The play was then made into a film in 1962, and she received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in it. At the time, she was the youngest person to have ever received an Academy Award in a competitive category.
In September, 1963, Sidney Sheldon created a show just for her, “The Patty Duke Show.” In the show, she portrayed identical cousins with contrasting personalities and lives. The show featured many famous guest stars such as Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Paul Lynde. The show earned Patty an Emmy Award nomination during its three-year run.
After the show’s cancellation, she went on to act in a wide variety of shows and movies including “Valley Of The Dolls,” “My Sweet Charlie,” and “By Design.” In 1985, Patty became the second woman to become the elected president of the Screen Actors Guild. After retiring, she went on to act in multiple smaller roles on television shows such as “Liv and Maddie,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and “Glee.”
During her life, Patty had three children, Sean, Mackenzie, and Kevin whom she loved to the moon and back. She married her final husband, Michael Pearce, in 1986 and they stayed married until she passed away on March 29, 2016. She died in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho near their Hayden home, from sepsis caused by a ruptured intestine. Although she’s gone, she has surely never been forgotten.