Patty Duke, 69Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
"Human beings have speculated about the relationship between inspiration and insanity for centuries."- Patty Duke
Duke, who began acting at 8, got her first big role when she was 12, as Helen Keller in the Broadway production of “The Miracle Worker.” It ran from from October 1959 to July 1961, and she reprised the role in a 1962 movie, for which she won an Academy Award. At the time, she was the youngest person to receive that honor.
“The Patty Duke Show,” in which she played “identical cousins” with very different personalities, premiered in 1963 and ran until 1966. Afterwards, Duke starred in “Valley of the Dolls” (1967) and “Journey to the Unknown” (1969). Here, a still from that production.
After years of struggle and several suicide attempts, Duke was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982, and spoke out to increase awareness. In addition to lobbying Congress for funding and research, she worked with mental health groups, like the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center. Here, she speaks at that organization’s 2003 awards ceremony in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Duke got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. It was a triumphant moment in a difficult life: born Anna Marie Duke, her name was changed to Patty by abusive managers who took advantage of the child star. To friends and family, she was known as Anna Pearce, having taken her fourth husband’s surname.