PATTY DUKE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Patty Duke                                                                         
Birth name: Anna Marie Duke                                                               
Born: 14 December 1946 Elmhurst, Queens, New York                                         
Patty Duke (born December 14, 1946) is an Academy Award-winning American actress         
of the stage and screen.                                                                 
Duke was born Anna Marie Duke in Elmhurst, Queens, New York to an Irish                   
American father, John P. Duke, and an Irish-German mother, Frances McMahon.               
Duke experienced what could be termed a Dickensian childhood. Her father was an           
alcoholic, and her mother suffered from clinical depression and was prone to             
violence. When Duke was 6, her mother threw her father out.                               
When she was 8, her mother essentially turned Duke's care over to her managers,           
John and Ethel Ross, who recognized her talent and promoted her as a child               
The Rosses' methods were somewhat unscrupulous. For instance,                             
they consistently billed Duke as two years younger than she was, and padded her           
resume with some false credits. It was Ethel Ross who gave the                           
sweeping name-change order, "Anna Marie is dead, you are Patty now."                     
This would have painful repercussions for Duke in the decades to come. (Her               
professional name was chosen because the Rosses wanted her to achieve the                 
success of Patty McCormack).                                                             
One of Duke's first acting jobs was on the soap opera The Brighter Day, in the           
late 1950s. She also appeared in print ads and in television commercials.                 
At the age of 12, Patty Duke appeared on The $64,000 Question and won $32,000.           
Three years later, it was revealed that the game show was rigged and she was             
called to testify before a congressional panel. She was coached by the Rosses to         
claim that she had not cheated. At first she went along with                             
the Rosses' story and lied to the panel. Later she broke down into tears and             
admitted that she had been given the answers.                                             
Duke's first major role was playing Helen Keller (with Anne Bancroft as Annie             
Sullivan) in the Broadway play The Miracle Worker, which ran for nearly two               
years. Midway through the run, her name was placed above the title on the                 
The play was subsequently made into a 1962 film, for which Duke received the             
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. At 16, Duke was the youngest person           
at that time to receive an Academy Award in a competitive category. She is also           
one of only three actresses to win an Oscar for a non-speaking role, since Duke           
had no dialogue other than grunts and screams in the film. She                           
won a Golden Globe for Me, Natalie in 1969, which also featured Al Pacino in his         
screen debut. In a 1979 television movie of "The Miracle Worker", Duke played             
In 1963, Duke landed her own series The Patty Duke Show, in which she played             
both main characters: Patty Lane and her prim and proper "identical cousin" from         
England, Cathy Lane. The show ran for three seasons, and earned her one Emmy             
Award nomination.                                                                         
Despite the success of her career, Duke was deeply unhappy during her teenage             
years. Efforts were taken to portray her as a normal teenager, but Duke has               
indicated in her memoirs that she was a virtual prisoner of the Rosses, and had           
little control over her own life and earnings. The Rosses kept control over Duke         
and her mother by allowing them only a pittance to survive on. The Rosses also           
began providing Duke with alcohol and prescription drugs when she was 13, which           
led to substance abuse problems later on (as an adult, Duke accused both John             
and Ethel Ross of sexual abuse).                                                         
Upon turning 18, Duke became free of the Rosses, only to find that they had               
squandered most of her earnings.                                                         
At the age of 18, Duke married director Harry Falk who was 31 years old at the           
time. Duke's heavy drinking and drug abuse, coupled with suicide attempts and             
anorexia, stressed the marriage. Falk eventually began an affair that ended the           
marriage after four years. It was during her marriage to Falk that she made               
Valley of the Dolls, a film that was a critical disaster that raised questions           
as to her ability as an adult actress. However, to this day,                             
according to Duke, she still hears from people who loved her character of Neely           
Duke had a successful singing career, garnering several Top 40 hits such as "Don't       
Just Stand There" in 1965, and "Dona Dona" in 1968. She performed both songs on           
The Ed Sullivan Show. However, it was in the 1970 TV movie My Sweet Charlie, for         
which she won her first Emmy Award, where Duke made her comeback as an actress.