Patty Duke: Star Still Shining Bright

Patty Duke Anna Maria Duke was born on December 14, 1946 in Elmhurst, Queens, New York. Her father, John P. Duke, was Irish-American and her mother, Frances Mac Mahon, was Irish and German. Her father was an alcoholic and her mother who suffered from mental illness, was prone to violence. At the age of eight, Anna Maria was turned over to John and Ethel Ross who recognized her talent and promoted her as a child actress. But they were unscrupulous people who padded her resume with false credits and billed her as two years younger than she was. They were ultimately not so kind to this sensitive little girl entrusted to their care. It was Ethel Ross who said: “Anna Maria is dead and you are Patty now.”

One of her first acting jobs was in the 1950s when she appeared on the soap opera, “The Brighter Day.” Her first major role was in the Broadway play, “The Miracle Worker,” in which she appeared opposite Anne Bancroft. The show ran for two years and in 1962 was made into a film. The same cast starred and Patty received the Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress,” and she was the youngest person at the time ever to have done so. (Tatum O’ Neal broke this record in 1974 when she won for “Paper Moon.”)

In 1963, she landed her own series, “The Patty Duke Show” in which she played two characters. It lasted three years and earned her and Emmy Award nomination. Despite her success, Duke was a very unhappy child because her managers controlled her money and squandered most of it, treating her like a prisoner and giving her alcohol and prescription drugs when she was only 13.

Duke married three times and had two children with second husband, John Astin. (He was not the father of her first son, but adopted him legally.) She has another son with her current husband, Michael Pearce.

She lives peacefully in Idaho, her bouts of depression controlled through lithium.

Come back to the screen, Patty. Your fans miss you!

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About Marjorie Dorfman

Marjorie Dorfman is a freelance writer and former teacher originally from Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of New York University School of Education, she now lives in Doylestown, PA, with quite a few cats that keep her on her toes at all times. Originally a writer of ghostly and horror fiction, she has branched out into the world of humorous non-fiction writing in the last decade. Many of her stories have been published in various small presses throughout the country during the last twenty years. Her book of stories, "Tales For A Dark And Rainy Night", reflects her love and respect for the horror and ghost genre.