By Kevin Zimmerman
Elmhurst native and Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke died early Tuesday morning. She was 69.
The cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine, her representative Mitchell Stubbs said in a statement.
In a statement from her family, Duke was described as a “beloved wife, mother, grandmother, matriarch, exquisite artist, humanitarian and champion for mental health.
“She closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place,” it said. “We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life. Her work endures.”
The actress was born Anna Marie Duke on Dec. 14, 1946.
Her career began after her then-single mother was unable to handle Duke and her two siblings. Her mother handed the 8-year-old girl over to talent agents John and Ethel Ross.
In her 1987 biography, “Call Me Anna,” Duke wrote that her managers/guardians spent all her acting earnings and even sexually abused her.
Duke made her Broadway debut in 1959 playing the young Helen Keller, co-starring with Anne Bancroft, in the William Gibson drama “The Miracle Worker.”
The play was turned into a 1962 movie, also starring Duke and Bancroft, in which both actresses earned Oscars for their performances.
After scoring the Best Supporting Actress award, and becoming the youngest person to win film’s top acting prize, Duke began a three-year run in “The Patty Duke Show.”
Duke played the show’s two major characters, Patricia “Patty” Lane — who had “only seen the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights” — and her identical cousin, Catherine “Cathy” Lane — who “adores the minuet, the Ballet Russe and crepes Suzette.”
In 1967, Duke accepted the role of Neely O’Hara in the film version of Jacqueline Susann’s “Valley of the Dolls,” a backstage melodrama following the exploits of three young women, portrayed by Duke, Barbara Perkins and Sharon Tate
The over-the-top performance cemented Duke’s status as a gay icon.
Duke went on to star in television movies — earning an Emmy award for the 1970 film “My Sweet Charlie” — TV sitcoms and feature motion pictures.
She won two more Emmys for her television work in 1977 and 1980.
In 1985 Duke became only the second woman to be elected president of the Screen Actors Guild. She served in that role until 1988.
Later in life, Duke became an advocate for mental health issues, after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982.
Married four times, Duke is survived by her last husband, Michael Pearce, as well as her three sons, Sean Astin, Mackenzie Astin and Kevin Pearce, and five granddaughters.
Reach News Editor Kevin Zimmerman by e-mail at kzimm