When she re-created her revelatory stage role as Helen Keller in the 1963 film adaptation of The Miracle Worker, talented and gorgeous Patty Duke became the youngest Academy Award winner at the time. This was the start of an incredible career which spanned decades and helped Duke found her place under the Hollywood sky and on the list of the most prominent actresses in the industry.
”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.
Her acting caught the attention of Sidney Sheldon, the creator of I Dream of Jeannie, who created a role based on Duke’s distinct personalities for The Patty Duke Show. It was probably Sheldon who first spotted that Duke experienced mood disorders.
In the show, Duke played paternal twin cousins, rambunctious Patty Lane, and brainy Kathy Lane. Later on, another character, Bestsy, was introduced and she was played by Duke as well.
”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 told NPR 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.’”
Once she was diagnosed, Duke was never afraid to speak of her mental health publicly. Although she knew it could affect her career, she was more interested in raising awareness and help others who shared her condition. Later on, her son, actor Sean Astin, best known for Hollywood Hits like The Goonies, Rudy, and Stranger Things, founded The Patty Duke Mental Health Initiative in his mother’s honor.
His daughter, Ali Astin, graduated from Harvard and she followed into her father’s and grandmother’s footsteps and in pursuing an acting career herself. Among the rest, she played his dad’s on-screen daughter in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Ali looks like her grandmother Patty, and the resemblance is so strong that many say how Patty Duke, who passed away in 2016, continues to twin with her granddaughter.
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.’”
Many of Duke’s fans were quick to comment under the post with one of them writing, “You look so much like her. Beautiful,” while another added, “You look so much like her. Loved Patty.” Third simply wrote, “Twins.”
Among the rest, Ali has played in the movies Bad Kids of Crestview Academy (2016) and Apocalypse Society (2017). Besides her grandmother and father, many of her family members are also part of the movie industry, including her grandfather John Astin who played Gomez in the 1964 TV series The Addams Family.
It is very often that people compare Ali with her late grandmother when she posts photos of herself on the social media. Some of the comments are, “Lil Miss Patty Duke!! Your grandma would be proud,” and “You remind me of your Grandmother in that photo.”
We wish Ali a career as successful as that of her grandmother.
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