Patty Duke was an actress known for her work throughout the ’60s and ’70s. From a young age, Duke stole the hearts of thousands in Broadway productions such as The Miracle Worker, films like Valley of the Dolls, and her television series The Patty Duke Show.
Throughout her career, Duke was the recipient of many accolades, including Golden Globes, Emmys, and even an Academy Award. But between the glitz and glamour, Duke found herself in a complicated situation a time or two! More facts about the one and only Patty Duke are coming up; all you have to do is keep scrolling.
Anna Marie Duke, AKA Patty Duke
Born in Manhattan, New York, in 1946, Anna Marie Duke grew up under the care of two talent managers, John and Ethel Ross. Unfortunately, they were more concerned about money, stuffing Duke’s resume with false credits and promoting her as two years younger than she actually was.
Duke never saw her birth father and only saw her mother when she went home to do her talent manager’s laundry. John and Ethel are also credited as the two who ‘made’ Patty Duke. “Anna Marie is dead,” they said. “You’re Patty now.” They hoped that the young girl would become more popular than Patty McCormack, another young actress.
The ’50s And Her First Roles
In the 1950s, Patty Duke landed one of her first acting roles, as Ellen Williams Dennis in the popular soap opera The Brighter Day. And while she wasn’t one of the leads, Duke landed five episodes of screen time.
During the decade, Duke also scored multiple television commercials and print ads, boosting her resume with actual credits and slowly but surely making a name for herself as a familiar face onscreen as well as in popular magazines and tabloids.
The $64,000 Question Game Show
At the age of 12, Patty Duke was on the popular game show The $64,000 Question. The game’s goal was to answer general knowledge questions, earning money with each correct answer, with the money doubling with each question.
To the surprise of many, the young girl wound up winning $32,000, a substantial sum for the year 1959. According to Duke, her best and favorite trivia category was Popular Music. Unfortunately, the game show wasn’t exactly all that it seemed.
The $64,000 Question Scandal
After Patty Duke won $32,000 on the game show The $64,000 Question, people started asking, ironically, questions. How was a 12 year old able to win all of that money? Then, in 1962, it was revealed that someone rigged the game. As a result, Duke was asked to stand before the United States Senate and testify.
While she was standing in front of a panel of congressional investigators, the young actress broke down in tears, admitting that she had been coached for not only the game but what to say during the court hearings!
1959 Wasn’t All Bad
Although Patty Duke started off on the wrong foot in 1959, things started looking up later in the year. She landed the role of Tootie Smith in the television adaptation of Meet Me in St. Louis. More impressively, it was the year Duke landed her first major leading role.
In 1959, Duke was asked to play the role of a young Helen Keller opposite Anne Bancroft’s Anne Sullivan in the Broadway production of The Miracle Worker. Of course, she accepted.
The Miracle Worker Shot Duke To Stardom
The Broadway production of The Miracle Worker ran from October October 1959 to July 1961, with Patty Duke starring as Helen Keller, one of the primary roles. Audiences were so enamored with the young actress that during the show’s run, Duke’s name was elevated above the production’s title on the marque.
This instance is believed to be the first time in Broadway’s history for such an honor to be given to a young star. But a few things were for certain: Duke earned the spot on the billboard, people were flocking to the theatre to see her, and she was a star.
When She Was 12, Patty Duke Met Helen Keller
During her run as Helen Keller on the Broadway stage, Patty Duke had the honor of meeting the real lady she was portraying. At the young age of 12 years old, Duke visited Miss Keller in her home, spending the day discussing the production and what it meant to play such an iconic female.
During an interview, Duke discussed her visit, saying, “We had the best time. We must have spent the whole day there. She was eager to know how much I loved playing her. She wanted to come to the show…our meeting was truly magical, mystical. I treasure those moments.”
The Miracle Worker Goes To Film
The 1959 Broadway production of The Miracle Worker was wildly successful. William Gibson even adapted the original screenplay for a film of the same name. Directed by Arthur Penn, Patty Duke stepped back into the shoes of Helen Keller for the silver screen, once again opposite Anne Bancroft’s Anne Sullivan.
An instant critical and commercial success, The Miracle Worker went on to win be honored with five Academy Award nominations, with Bancroft winning for Best Actress and Duke winning for Best Supporting Actress, her first and only Academy Award.
The Start Of The Patty Duke Show
With her growing fame, the ABC network decided they just had to create a show with Patty Duke as the star. The only issue was they had no clue what the show was going to be about, what direction it was going to take, or who else would be involved.
So, it was decided that Duke would spend time at the house of writer and producer Sidney Sheldon. He wanted to get a grasp on who Duke was as a person. And after a while, he knew exactly where he wanted to take the show.
Her Split Personality Sparked The Writer’s Creativity
While Patty Duke stayed with him and his family, Sidney Sheldon noticed the young actress had two very distinct sides to her personality. He decided to run with it, coming up with the idea of Duke playing identical cousins with different personalities.
As Duke once told it, the writer was able to capture her contrasting personalities perfectly in the form of two fictional characters. And so, with a concept in place, writing for The Patty Duke Show began!
The Show Was A Success
The first episode of The Patty Duke Show aired in September of 1963, running for three seasons of 103 episodes. Viewers were captivated by the show, especially because the dual characters played by Duke challenged every bit of special effects equipment at the time.
Either way, with the success of the series and the popularity of her characters Patricia “Patty” Lane and Catherine “Cathy” Lane, Duke was being thrown further and further into the limelight.
The Patty Duke Show Cast Was Like Family
Being young and spending virtually all her time with the cast of The Patty Duke Show resulted in a close-knit group of people. Duke’s even been quoted as calling the cast her surrogate family, especially her on-screen father, actor William Schallert.
During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Duke said, “He’s the dad I never got to spend time with. The family we created [on] the show was very much a family. That was my safety zone.”
The Cancelation Of The Patty Duke Show
Even with its popularity, the production of The Patty Duke Show came to a halt in April of 1966, when Duke turned 18. But there were a few reasons why the show was canceled, none of which had to do with viewership or ratings.
One such reason was the growing popularity of color television sets. As The Patty Duke Show was filmed in black and white, it would have cost the network more to switch the show to color, rather than starting a new show from scratch. As a result, the series was canceled.
1967 And The Movie That Almost Ruined Duke’s Career
Patty Duke began her adult acting career with the role of Neely O’Hara in the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls. While the film was a box office success, earning $50 million worldwide on a $4.4 million budget, critics negatively reviewed it for a specific reason.
Critics, along with audience members, had difficulty watching the All-American Patty Duke portray the substance-abusing singer Neely O’Hara. Even so, the movie has since become a camp classic for Duke’s character’s over-the-top antics.
Duke Won A Golden Globe In 1969
The year 1969 saw Patty Duke step away from her pretty girl-next-door persona and into an “ugly duckling” role in the film Me, Natalie. In the movie, Duke stars as Natalie Miller, a teenager from Brooklyn struggling to fit into the hip world of Greenwich Village, New York.
Even though the movie didn’t get the best reviews, Duke’s performance didn’t go unnoticed. Movie critic Roger Elbert said, “[it’s a] pleasant film, very funny at times, and the evidence in the audience was that women liked it enormously. And Patty Duke, as Natalie, supplies a wonderful performance.” For her performance, Duke won a Golden Globe for Best Actress (Musical or Comedy).
Duke Won Her First Emmy In 1970
Patty Duke made her way back to television in 1970, in the made-for-television drama My Sweet Charlie. In the film, Duke plays the role of Marlene Chambers, a pregnant teenager who’s been shunned by her father and boyfriend and is living in an abandoned house.
The performance earned Duke her first Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. This wasn’t going to be the last time Duke was honored with the award, though.
Duke Wins Her Second Emmy For A Mini-Series
In 1977, Patty Duke won her second Primetime Emmy Award, this time for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series. In the limited drama series Captains and Kings, Duke portrays Bernadette Hennessey Armagh, the woman whose father throws her into the arms of Joseph Armagh even though Armagh doesn’t love her.
The eight-part television miniseries aired on NBC and garnered stellar reviews. One critic said, “Old-time movie stars, current stars and up and comers all mixed together to form a mosaic of a driven and a rather despicable man’s journey through his life and our history.”
Back To The Miracle Worker
Patty Duke revisited one of the productions that made her famous, The Miracle Worker. In 1979, Duke went back to the Broadway stage in a revival of the play. This time, she wasn’t playing the lead of Helen Keller, but rather that of Anne Sullivan, opposite Melissa Gilbert’s Helen Keller.
Her role as Keller’s teacher and life-long companion earned Duke yet another Primetime Emmy, this time for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special. The Broadway production was the final time Duke was involved in The Miracle Worker.
She Had A Short Yet Successful Singing Career
Like many child actors and teen stars, Duke had a stint as a singer. But unlike some who transition from acting to singing, Duke’s career was oddly successful. In 1965, Duke had two songs breach the Top 40. Her song “Don’t Just Stand There” peaked at number eight, while “Say Something Funny” reached the 22nd spot.
She went on to sing her hits on shows such as Ed Sullivan and Shindig!, a popular variety series of the ’60s. There were even a few episodes of The Patty Duke Show where the actress showed off her musical talents.
Patty Duke Was A Young Actress With A Lot Of Industry “Firsts”
When Patty Duke first stepped onto the Hollywood scene, she was very young. But her age didn’t stop her from landing prominent roles in productions such as The Miracle Worker, a performance for which she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
At the time, Duke was the youngest actor to receive an award in one of the top categories. But that wasn’t the only “first” for Duke. The actress is also credited with being the youngest star to receive a self-titled television series.