RIP: Patty Duke, former child star and mental health advocate

Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke died today due to complications of a ruptured intestine, the New York Times reported. The 69-year-old former child star was best known for her roles as Helen Keller in the Broadway production of The Miracle Worker, the film adaption of The Miracle Worker, and as both Patty and Cathy Lane (“identical cousins”) on The Patty Duke Show. 

At 16-years-old, Patty Duke won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the film adaptation of The Miracle Worker. At the time, she was the youngest actor ever to win an Academy Award, reported USA Today. She appeared alongside Anne Bancroft, who played Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, in both the stage and screen versions. Later in her life, Patty starred in the movie version of Valley of the Dolls.

Aside from her impressive acting career, Patty was also one of the first major celebrities to speak publicly about mental illness. She revealed in her 1987 autobiography Call Me Anna that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years earlier, according to USA Today. Patty later opened up more about the condition in her book, Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness.

Family, friends, and fans have taken to Twitter to express their condolences:

It’s safe to say Patty Duke touched many of our hearts, whether that was with the joy she brought to the stage and screen or the words she put on the page.