Saturday, April 20, 2024

Patty Duke, Child Star Who Went on to an Oscar, Adult Accolades, Dies at 69


Patty Duke won the Oscar for supporting actress in “The Miracle Worker.” But she’s most fondly remembered for playing twin cousins on “The Patty Duke Show” also in the early 60s. Her family says she died today at age 69 from a ruptured intestine.

She might also be known as the mother of Sean Astin, “SamWise” in “Lord of the Rings” and star of the football cult classic “Rudy.” Patty’s other son, MacKenzie Astin, is also a well known actor. Their father was the late John Astin, aka Gomez Addams from “The Addams Family.”

Patty Duke was born Anna Marie Duke, and became a star overnight. She was the subject of a very public tug of war between her parents and her agent as she landed her own series, “The Patty Duke Show,” in which she played identical cousins– one from Brooklyn Heights, the other from London’s Barclay Square. Her manager, John Ross, and his wife, she said later, basically took her hostage. In 1982, she accused them of sexual abuse. Soon after she announced she suffered from bi-polar disorder.

She earned three Emmy Awards, one for a highly regarded TV movie called “My Sweet Charlie.” She also starred in the campy hit “Valley of the Dolls.” She was also president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985 to 1988.

Well, 69 is too early, but it seemed like Patty Duke would have to been 80 or more considering what she went through. She was tough and talented, a great and loving mother, and a heroine in Hollywood history. Condolences to her family.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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