|With painful honesty, Duke revealed|
her mental illness, one of the first to
do so publicly.
|The Miracle Worker ran so long, star Anne|
Bancroft moved on. Recognize her replacement
(above)? That's Suzanne Pleshette with Patty.
At the same time she was appearing on the quiz show, Patty won the role which put her on the map, Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. Her raw performance of the deaf blind mute child was a sensation, and when she recreated the performance on screen, she became the youngest performer ever to win a competitive Oscar (years later, that stat was broken by both Tatum O'Neal and Anna Pasquin).
|Patty's interpretation of the modern teen seemed|
real, but she actually had no idea how normal
teens behaved. Her handlers kept her secluded
from everyone and refused to allow her friends.
She earned the first of her 10 Emmy nods for
|Duke remembers her castmates as the family she never had. "Poppo" William Schallert remained a lifelong father figure to her, and "Mommo" Jean Byron explained the facts of life to Patty.|
|Patty the youngster and Ed Begley the oldster|
on Oscar night. Duke beat such heavy hitters
as Shirley Knight and Angela Lansbury. Ed
won for Sweet Bird of Youth.
|In the tradition of Joan Crawford's "No wire|
hangers," Bette Davis's "But ya' are, Blanch, ya
are in that chair" and Norma Desmond's
"I'm ready for my close-up," Patty's Neely O'Hara
spawned a gay catchphrase:
"Sparkle, Neely, Sparkle!"
|Neely O'Hara hits the skids.|
Patty's new, adult career was launched. She won a Golden Globe for the feature film, Me, Natalie, and picked up the second of her 10 Emmy nominations for her performance in the TV film, My Sweet Charlie. When she won the award in 1970, her acceptance speech turned into one of the most notorious ever delivered at the Emmy Awards. Her stilted speech and disjointed thoughts were immediately pegged as the result of drug abuse, when in fact they were the result of a manic episode.
acceptance speech at the 1970
Emmys gave her the reputation
of a druggie, but in fact she was
in the midst of an undiagnosed
The critical success of My Sweet Charlie ushered in a golden age of Made-for-TV films. They peppered the broadcast landscape for the next several decades. Some were prestigious successes, others were schlocky claptrap. Patty starred in more than her share of both.
|Soon after The Miracle Worker, our pint sized star|
worked with Laurence Olivier in a TV adaptation
of Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory.
At the same time, she became involved with rock promoter Michael Tell, whom she married when she became pregnant. The union was dissolved less than 2 weeks later; throughout her life, Patty believed her first child, Sean Astin, was the son of Arnaz. (When he hit adulthood, Sean took a paternity test which proved Patty's husband, Michael Tell, was his father. Isn't this fun?)
|Patty's marriage to comic actor John Astin (16 years her senior) produced another actor son, Mackenzie Astin, and lasted about a dozen years. During this period, she was known as Patty Duke Astin. The collapse of this marriage is more proof of my theory that Hollywood marriages never work out if the wife takes the husband's name. I wrote about this here, years before Kaley Cuoco and Courtney Cox reinforced my point.|
Duke's third Emmy brought her full circle, as it were, with her Broadway triumph. In 1979, Melissa Gilbert had gained stardom with Little House on the Prairie, and her production company seized on the idea of a TV remake of The Miracle Worker. They offered Patty Duke the title role for which Anne Bancroft had won her Oscar.
|Patty's third Emmy came in the same property which earned her Oscar: The Miracle Worker, which received a TV remake in 1979. That's Melissa Gilbert as Helen.|
|In Hail to the Chief, Patty portrayed the 1st|
female president (it was the first TV series to
feature a female POTUS). That's Audra Lindley
in the upper left, pre-Mrs. Roper. That Girl vet
Ted Bessell played the First Husband.
|The decline of her screen career brought Patty back to the stage. In the 2002 Broadway revival of Oklahoma!, she assumed the role of Aunt Eller when Andrea Martin moved on.|
|As Madame Morrible in Wicked, a role Duke played for six|
months in San Francisco.
This week's Dance Party comes from a forgotten film from 1965 called Billie, in which Patty, at the height of her teen stardom, plays a tomboy who also wants a boyfriend.
|Patty was uncomfortable singing, but that did not|
stop her sitcom's producers from forcing her to do
it. Here she is with Jeremy (of Chad & Jeremy).