Patty Duke, the teen who won an Oscar for The Miracle Worker and later played “identical cousins” in her own TV sitcom, has died. She was 69.

The news was confirmed Tuesday by one of her representatives, Mitchell Stubbs.

“Anna ‘Patty Duke’ Pearce passed away this morning March 29, 2016 at 1:20 am,” his statement read. “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.”

Acclaimed for her acting (her career dates back to the late 1950s), Duke became best known in later life as an advocate for mental health issues, after she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982 and wrote about it in her 1987 autobiography.

Duke won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role, becoming the then-youngest person to win an Oscar. She catapulted to one of the most famous American teenagers ever playing blind-and-deaf American icon Helen Keller on stage and later in the 1962 film, The Miracle Worker, which told the story of how Keller learned to communicate as a child through her tutor Anne Sullivan (Anne Bancroft).

But Duke really impressed herself in American pop culture in 1963, when she was given her own series, The Patty Duke Show, created especially for her. At the time, no one knew, not even Duke, that she had bipolar disorder.

But producer Sidney Sheldon had noticed that she had two distinct sides to her personality and the two came up with the idea of a show about “identical cousins” with contrasting personalities, and even different accents.

The show, which ran from 1963-1966, was hard work: She played both characters, Patricia “Patty” Lane, a “typical” fun-loving American teenager who occasionally got into minor trouble at school and home, and Catherine “Cathy” Lane, her more well-behaved cousin from Scotland.

Duke’s life and career were tumultuous, and not just because of her bipolar disorder or the fact she worked so much (her Internet Movie Database page shows she has a movie, Power of the Air, coming out in 2017), but because of her personal life.

She was married four times and had multiple affairs, which led to some confusion over the father of one of her three children, actor Sean Astin (his dad turned out to be one of her lovers-turned-short-lived husbands).

Duke married her fourth husband, drill sergeant Michael Pearce, in 1986, after meeting on the set of a TV movie, A Time to Triumph, for which Pearce served as a consultant. They moved to Hayden, Idaho, adopted a son, Kevin, born in 1988.  After her marriage, Duke used the name Anna Duke-Pearce in her writings and other professional work.


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