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Anna Marie "Patty" Duke ( 1946 - )  Category ( Actor_Actress ) [suggest a correction]
 

When talent agents John and Ethel Ross discovered Anna Marie Duke, they told her that "Anna Marie is dead. You're Patty now."

This life-altering change was just one of many traumas in Duke's life. Duke was born in Queens, New York on 14 December 1946. Raised by an alcoholic father and a manic-depressive mother, Duke left home with the Ross couple at age eight. Her stardom was soon to follow as she bowled audiences over with her role as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. At age 16, Duke became the youngest person (at the time) ever to win an Oscar.

From 1963 to 1966, Patty starred in her own TV series, The Patty Duke Show, in which she played two parts - a "normal American teenager" and the teen's identical cousin from England. But behind the scenes, she was sexually abused by John Ross, had access to prescription drugs and alcohol, and had to do housework and cooking for Ethel and John. She has said that it took years of therapy for her to recover repressed memories of the sexual abuse. And she hated "Patty," yet the other cast members had no inkling of the misery that hid below the surface of the hard-working, talented child.

Duke escaped the Ross's clutches by marrying director Harry Falk, a man almost twice her age. Over the next two decades, Duke fell in and out of marriges, suffered drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts and anorexia and was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982. She was treated with lithium, a drug that has helped her balance her life.

Now, Duke is an activist for mental health issues, with a Web site that addresses many mental health problems and books that have helped her purge her past. In 1985 until 1988, Duke was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild, the second woman to hold the position. Coincidentally, in the same year she also played the first female President of the United States in the sitcom, Hail to the Chief.

She authored two books, one her autobiography, Call Me Anna, and Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness. In December, 2007, Duke was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of North Florida for her work in advancing awareness of mental health issues.


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