Anna “Patty Duke” Pearce, who made a name for herself as a teen for her Oscar-winning role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, has died. She was 69.
Duke, who later went on to star as “identical cousins” in her own series, The Patty Duke Show, would also fill the titular role of Anne Sullivan in a 1979 remake of The Miracle Worker. She was working until the day she died, and has a film, Power of the Air, due out in April 2017.
However, Duke’s importance swelled beyond the world of movies and TV in 1982, when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and subsequently became a great advocate for those suffering from mental illness. In 1993 she co-authored a book, Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness, which sought to bring light to the reality of living with, and overcoming, serious mental illness. Her son, actor Sean Astin, has taken up his mother’s cause, giving informative talks around the country to bring awareness to mental health issues.
News of Duke’s passing was presented by one of her representatives earlier today. “”Anna ‘Patty Duke’ Pearce passed away this morning March 29, 2016 at 1:20 a.m. Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be missed.”