Patty Duke (born Anna Marie Duke) captured the hearts of billions after winning an Academy Award in 1963 for Best Supporting Actress at only 16-years-old for her role as Helen Keller in the The Miracle Worker; This made her the youngest person ever to receive an Oscar. Throughout the years that following this achievement, the actress continued to lead a successful career performing in film, television and on stage. She went on to star in her own Emmy-nominated sitcom The Patty Duke Show (1963-1966), and starred as Neely O’Hara in Valley of the Dolls (1967). She later won Emmys for her performances in the TV movies My Sweet Charlie (1970) and Captains and the Kings (1976) and most recently, guest-starred on Hawaii Five-0 in 2011, Glee in 2013 and Liv and Maddie in 2015. Just this past Tuesday, March 29, Duke was once again one of the prominent topics on television and the media. The news regarding the actress however, did not have to do with any more upcoming guest appearances on TV. Rather, the news was shocking and tragic; sadly, Duke passed away early Tuesday morning at age 69.
The news was confirmed in a statement to USA Today made by one of Duke’s representatives, Mitchell Stubbs, who announced that Duke died in a hospital in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, where she had lived for the last 25 years with her husband Michael Pearce.
“Anna ‘Patty Duke’ Pearce passed away this morning March 29, 2016 at 1:20 am,” Stubbs’ statement read. “Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be missed.”
What meant more to Duke than her career was her family and friends. While the news saddens all of us, it is her loved ones of course, who struggle with the star’s untimely passing most of all. On Facebook, Duke’s son, actor Sean Astin, honored his mother by sharing the following heartfelt post :
Duke’s most recent and final tweet on Twitter not only shows how important family was in her life, but it emphasizes the amount of light she brought to the world:
Rest in peace Patty Duke. You are forever a legendary actress, mother, grandmother, wife and friend. You will be greatly missed but will never be forgotten.