Fans of The Patty Duke Show are used to seeing double.
For three seasons over 1963 to 1967, Duke, who at the time was the youngest person to win an Academy Award, played identical twin cousins in the popular TV show, which acted as a launching pad for her broad career in show business that included becoming a successful hit singer.
Through her storied career, Duke won an Academy Award, two Golden Globe Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
As a child, Duke began her Hollywood career with an acting role on the soap opera The Brighter Day and soon after she appeared on a game show The $64,000 Question, which sparked controversy through claims that her win of $32,000 was rigged.
Even so, her rise to stardom continued.
Playing alongside famed Anne Bancroft, Duke’s first major role was Helen Keller in the Broadway play, The Miracle Worker, which was turned into a film in 1962. Duke’s portrayal of the young Keller in the movie landed her an Academy Award for Best Actress, when she was only 16.
”I had many, many, many fears and obsessive fears as a young person, and maybe I was incorporating them into that role. And I do know for a fact that the role was very therapeutic for me…” Duke once recalled.
Next, she joined legendary actors Laurence Olivier and George C. Scott in a TV adaptation of The Power and the Glory.
Capturing the attention of Sidney Sheldon, also the creator of I Dream of Jeannie, Duke became the star of a show named after her, with the main characters written specifically for her personality.
The Patty Duke Show featured paternal twin cousins, teens Patty Lane who was rambunctious and the brainy, sophisticated Kathy Lane. In season two, the twins became triplets with the introduction of another character, Betsy, who was also played by Duke.
”For its genre, it was quite a lovely little show. And they were nice people, and they weren’t saying nasty, hideous things to each other all the time. And I kind of miss that element of a family show,” Duke said in 1988.
“At the time, Duke had not been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but Sheldon created the twin roles after identifying her distinct personalities. Before being correctly diagnosed, she referred to her life as ”the deep black hole from which you cannot extricate yourself.”
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Duke became a champion for mental health and challenged internal shame by openly sharing her story. She had to endure the wolves of Hollywood at a young age – but decided to speak up and help others.
Patty Duke was strong woman who overcame life with willpower and a fury of determination – and her legacy lives on today.
Son and granddaughter
Her son, actor Sean Astin, joined her in bringing awareness to mental health and later founded The Patty Duke Mental Health Initiative in her honor.
Astin is known for his roles in Hollywood Hits like The Goonies, Rudy, and in Stranger Things.
He also played Samwise Gamgee, a fictional hobbit in the epic The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, his real-life daughter Ali Astin, played his on-screen daughter, Eleanor Gamgee.
Decades later, Ali, who recently graduated Harvard, has also become an actor who’s causing quite a stir amongst fans.
Patty Duke, meanwhile, who died in 2016, has been immortalized by her popularity; fans still see images of her graceful, ageless beauty.
Interestingly, Ali looks just like her grandmother, or her “nana,” as she lovingly calls her.
In December 2017, on what would have been Duke’s 71st birthday, Ali posted a side-by-side photo of her and her nana, with a birthday tribute that read:
“This is the last text my nana ever sent me, I had just gotten my first big review: ‘Ali dear, Pops and I are so proud of you. Congrats on your rave review. Wish we could have seen you. We’re not surprised that you did so well. We think of you all the time. We love and miss you a ton.’”
Fans chimed in with thoughtful comments. One said “You look so much like her. Beautiful,” while one posted “You look so much like her. Loved Patty.” Another simply wrote, “Twins.”
Ali, an aspiring actor, played roles in the films Bad Kids of Crestview Academy (2016) and Apocalypse Society (2017). Being on screen comes naturally to her and her family. In addition to her grandmother and father, her mother is Christine Astin, an Oscar nominee for the short film, Kangaroo Court, directed by Sean Astin. Her grandfather, John Astin, played Gomez in the 1964 TV series The Addams Family, and her uncles Mackenzie Astin and Ray Duke also had roles in TV and in film.
Recently, Ali posted photos on her Instagram, again appealing to fans of her Nanna.
One fan said, “Lil Miss Patty Duke!! Your grandma would be proud”
And to another photo, a fan commented: “You remind me of your Grandmother in that photo.”
As a little girl in ‘60s, I loved Patty Duke! She was inspiring to me and others, both for her talent and outspokeness!
It’s really cool to see how her spirit lives on in her children and grandchildren – share this article on Facebook if you agree.