Patty Duke is a true show business legend. Her career has spanned six decades and she continues to thrive long after many of her contemporaries have retired. Ms. Duke has conquered Broadway, film and television. In 1959 she made her Broadway debut in The Miracle Worker, the powerful story of Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan (portrayed by Anne Bancroft). The show ran for nearly two years and a twelve-year-old Patty Duke won the Theatre World Award as “Most Promising Newcomer.”
Soon after The Miracle Worker closed on Broadway, Ms. Duke and Ms. Bancroft both reprized their roles in the motion picture version and each won Oscars. Patty Duke’s win as Best Supporting Actress made her, at the time, the youngest Academy Award winner in history. Ms. Duke also won a Golden Globe Award for her performance.
Coming off her Oscar win, she played genetically unexplainable identical cousins on The Patty Duke Show from 1963 to 1966. The show was a top-rated program and brought Duke her first Emmy nomination. Patty Duke also entered the history books as the youngest person (16) ever to have a show bearing her full name. In addition, she became a Billboard top-ten singer with the recording of her hit song, “Don’t Just Stand There.”
By 1967, Patty Duke wanted to shed her good girl image. She won the part of cross-addicted Neely O’Hara in the camp classic Valley of the Dolls. The film was a huge box office success and remains a cult favorite to this day.
Over the next several years Ms. Duke appeared in Me, Natalie (Golden Globe Award), and became the first actress ever to win an Emmy for a TV-Movie for My Sweet Charlie. She won her second Emmy for Captains and the Kings and her third for her masterful portrayal of Annie Sullivan in the television remake of The Miracle Worker. She received 9 additional nominations for her roles in television movies. Ms. Duke has appeared in more than 90 TV and theatrical movies.
In addition to her acting, she became the second woman to ever be elected president of The Screen Actors Guild, which is the fifth largest labor union in the United States. She also became, twice, a New York times best-selling author with the publication of her autobiography, Call Me Anna, and its follow up, A Brilliant Madness , both which detail her harrowing childhood, rise to fame and diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. A television adaptation of Call Me Anna was later produced with Duke portraying herself.
She has also starred in several stage productions including The Glass Menagerie; Follies; Gypsy, and in a return to the Broadway stage, Oklahoma, and recently finished a year long run in San Francisco production of “Wicked”, as Madame Morrible.
Ms. Duke is delighted in teaching drama at University of Idaho and tutor sessions. She is very honored to have received two, PHD’s, first from University of North Florida and the second, from University of Maryland, Eastern Shores.
At 65 years old, she is still very eager to play roles encompassing the aging process. At this writing, Ms Duke has just finished directing a tremendous hit of the stage version of the Miracle Worker here in Spokane at the Interplayers Theater.
She continues to travel the country to speak about mental illness and is proud to be the Social Security lady, in PSA’s promoting retiring online and many other options now available.
Today she makes her home in North Idaho with husband Michael Pearce and son Kevin.