NPR 4 THE DEAF: The Dark Side Of Patty Duke

Patty Duke


FRESH AIR: Patty Duke, the Oscar-winning actress who grew up in the public eye as a child star, died Tuesday in a hospital near her home in Idaho. She was 69. At the age of 12, she won over Broadway audiences as Helen Keller in “The Miracle Worker.” Three years later, she played Keller in the screen adaptation and became the youngest actor at the time ever to win an Academy Award. Then she got her own TV sitcom, “The Patty Duke Show,” and became one of TVs most celebrated teens. Here’s a scene from 1965. Patty’s at the doctor’s office issues to see if she needs to have her tonsils removed. When she meets her surgeon, played by the dreamy Troy Donahue, she immediately develops a big crush. After “The Patty Duke Show,” Duke co-starred in the film “Valley Of The Dolls,” playing a woman addicted to sex, drugs and alcohol. In fact, her own life was very troubled. She was born into a working-class home with an alcoholic father and was trained in acting and eventually taken from the home by a couple who controlled her life, embezzled her earnings and, she later wrote, sexually abused her. She also had bouts of mental illness and was eventually diagnosed and treated for bipolar disorder. She kept acting and became a respected president of the Screen Actors Guild and a mental health advocate. Many details about her life were first revealed in her autobiography “Call Me Anna.” Terry interviewed Patty Duke in 1988, not long after it was published. MORE