Mar 29, 2016 12:58 PM by News Staff
Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke, who hit the trifecta of stardom with her turns on the big and small screens as well as on Broadway, is dead, NBC News has learned. She was 69 and her death was confirmed by her manager.
The Queens-born daughter of a troubled cashier and alcoholic cab driver, Duke overcame a horrific childhood to become one of the Hollywood's most respected actresses and president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1985 to 1988.
Duke rocketed to fame in the 1960's as the star of "The Patty Duke Show," which ran for 104 episodes over three seasons starting in 1963 and in which she played her rambunctious self as well as her more demure "identical cousin."
Diagnosed as bipolar in 1982, Duke devoted her later years to championing mental health programs and raising her three sons, two of whom — Sean Astin and Mackenzie Astin — followed in their mother's footsteps and became actors as well.
Duke was married four times and is also survived by her last husband Michael Pearce and their son, Kevin Pearce.
Born Anna Marie Duke in Dec. 14, 1946, Duke was one of three children. Her career was launched at age 8 when her mother, unable to cope with the kids, turned her over to talent scouts John and Ethel Ross who saw gold in the perky young girl.
Duke won Broadway fame at age 12 in "The Miracle Worker." She later won an Academy Award reprising her role as the young Helen Keller in the 1962 screen adaptation. And in 1979, she won an Emmy playing Keller's teacher--the role originally played on Broadway by Anne Bancroft--in a TV version of the same play.
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