Actress and mental-health advocate Patty Duke has died at 69, reports. The Hollywood icon went from child star to respected actress and Screen Actors Guild president all while balancing a troubled personal life and mental health issues. Her representative confirmed the news in a statement:
"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."
in 1946, her career began early; a talent scout noticed her brother first, but gave her the training she needed to lose her New York accent and start acting. In 1959, at the tender age of 12, she landed the role of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker on Broadway, opposite Anne Bancroft as her teacher, Annie Sullivan.
The two reprised their roles in a feature film, and Duke won an Oscar for her performance, becoming the youngest winner ever at the time. In 1979, she starred as Annie Sullivan in an NBC remake of the movie, opposite Melissa Gilbert as Helen Keller.
After her big win, she became a sitcom star, playing "identical cousins" Patty and Cathy Lane on The Patty Duke Show. But Duke lived a troubled life, starting from childhood. Two talent managers renamed her Patty and convinced her mother to let her live with them. Duke has since John and Ethel Ross of being abusive and controlling, and spending her hard-earned money on vacations and drugs.
Duke was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attempted suicide after her first marriage ended. Her love life was tumultuous after that. She had romantic affairs with Desi Arnaz Jr., Michael Tell, and John Astin, and briefly married Tell. Around that time, she became pregnant with her son, Sean Astin, who is best known for his roles in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A later confirmed Tell as the biological father. John and Patty married and had a second child, but ended up divorcing in 1985. She met her husband, Mike Pearce, while he was teaching her what it was like to go through army basic training for a movie. The final tweet associated with Duke's account commemorated their 30-year anniversary.
Duke acted consistently until her death, and she also wrote two books about her struggle with bipolar disorder. She is survived by Pearce, her children, Sean Astin, Mackenzie Astin, and Kevin Pearce, and her grandchildren.