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Lucille Ball Never Approved of Patty Duke’s Relationship

Patty Duke and Dezi Arnez, Jr. had an on-and-off-again affair. She was three years older than him and already had a colorful romantic history.

Lucile Ball was shocked when she pointed to Dezi Jr. That was the kind of story that could ruin a family history. Patty’s own history was a tragic tale.

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Her Traumatic Early Life

Anna Marie  Duke was born on the 14th of December, 1946. She lived in a bedbug-infested apartment in Elmhurst, Queens. There were only 4 rooms, and none of them had doors. She had to share one with her brother Raymond and sister Carol.

Her father was an alcoholic who was pleasant at first but eventually became aggressive. Her mother kicked him out of the house when Patty was 6. She never saw him again, but she doesn’t resent him at all.

Her mother was also unstable and had violent depressive episodes. She began acting at the age of 6 under managers John and Ethel Ross.

They got her bit parts in commercials and offered to take her on as a permanent client if she agreed to live with them. She had a “sinking feeling”  when she met them but accepted the offer. She thought it would relieve her mother from the burden of raising three children on her own.

Patty built a resume while living with the Rosses that included ads, soaps, and live dramas. She already had 50 credits to her name by the time she was 12. That earned her a role as Helen Keller in the Broadway musical The Miracle Worker.

Ethel Ross forced her to change her name to Patty and forced her to lose her New York accent. They cut off all contact with her mother and didn’t let her see anyone except for her and John. They controlled everything about her life, from what she wore to when she could close the door to her room.

Patty had to go to court in 1959. There was an investigation into a TV quiz show, and she had to answer questions about it. She’d been on the show the year before, and the Rosses told her to memorize all the answers. They told her to lie about it, but she admitted everything.

Her life with the Rosses only got worse from there. They attempted to sexually abuse her twice, but she managed to stop them by vomiting.

Patty later met Harry Falk Jr., the assistant director of the Patty Duke Show, and fell in love with him even though he was 31 years old. The Rosses tried to block her from the relationship, but she barred them from the set and married Halk when she was 19.

Her Early Career

Patty was the youngest woman to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1963. She starred in the movie version of The Miracle Worker.

At the age of 16, she was also the youngest actress to have a TV show named after her.  Sidney Sheldon created it for her but noticed she had two sides to her personality.

He created two main characters who were cousins and had her play them both. It was popular enough to last for three seasons and featured famous guest stars such as Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, and Frankie Avalon.

Patty also starred in the 1965 film Billie. It was the first movie ever sold to a TV network.

That movie showed that she also had a talent for singing. She managed to have a few hit songs. Don’t Just Stand There went gold and reached #8 on the charts, and the album of the same name reached #90.

Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on the secrets of Patty Duke’s life. Keep watching to learn more about why Lucile Ball never approved of her with her son Dezi.

Patty and Dezi

Lucile Ball and Dezi Arnaz were TV royalty, and their children were born in the spotlight. It was major headline news when Dezi Arnaz Jr. began an affair with Patty Duke when he was only 17 and she was 23.

Patty was already romantically involved with actor John Astin at the time. She also married Michael Tell during her affair with Dezi but stayed with him for less than two weeks.

Dezi says that his mother had nothing against Patty as a human being and actually liked her. The major problem was their age difference and the fact that she’d already been divorced.

Lucy also hated the bad press that the affair brought. She claimed to have “worked for years for a quiet personal life” and Patty took that away. She worried that the situation would ruin the family’s name.

Her Son

Patty became pregnant after marrying Michael Tell. Her romantic life was so complex that it was unclear who the child’s father was.

When she first became pregnant, she claimed that Dezi Arnez was the father. That made Lucy angrier than anything she’d done before. She called it “irresponsible” and felt it would be another blot on the family name.

When John Astin’s of Addams Family fame finalized his divorce, Patty claimed he was the father. They got married in 1972 and had another son, Mackenzie, in 1973.

Patty told Sean that Dezi was his father when he was 14. They developed a relationship, but he eventually met one of Michael Tell’s relatives. They began to suggest to him that they may have been family all along.

The real truth eventually came out when Sean got a DNA test. His biological father was Michael Tell. Patty refuses to believe the results of the test, but Sean has a different perspective. He’s managed to become close to all four of his “dads” but regards John Astin as his “father” because he raised him.

Her Mental Health

When Patty Duke finally found a way out from her traumatic childhood, she admits that she wasn’t ready for adulthood. Her mental health was poor.  Patty first began experiencing manic mood swings when she was 19. She’d get so depressed that she would be unable to get out of bed and wept for days.

She also had violent mood swings. She developed an eating disorder that took her down to 76 pounds at one point and overdosed on Valium up to 8 times.

Patty appeared in Valley of the Dolls in 1967. She played Neely O’Hara, a neurotic pill addict. Rumors flew that she got the role because it matched her real-life struggles. The movie was a box-office success and remains a cult classic. 

Her Emmy Award appearance in 1970 only added flame to the fire. She went to accept her award for Outstanding Single Performance for My Sweet Charlie. Her speech was erratic and hard to understand. The truth was that she was having a mental breakdown in public.

Her mania only got worse over the years. It wasn’t until she had children and realized how it affected their lives that she began to reach out for help.

Patty didn’t get an official diagnosis of bipolar disorder until 1982. She was prescribed lithium for her moods and asked everyone she’d hurt to forgive her. She became one of the first celebrities to openly speak about it and a major advocate for mental health.

The diagnosis changed her life, but it didn’t save her marriage to John Astin. He was already becoming distant and more of a father figure for her children than a husband. They were divorced in 1985, and she still feels love for him.

Finding True Love

Patty began filming A Time to Triumph in 1986. The director, Noel Black, thought she was perfect for the role and praised her work ethic.

That didn’t mean that playing the part was easy. She had to train and run drills to prepare physically. She even arrived covered in sweat at her 39th birthday party.

All the effort was worth it because, on the set of the film, she met and later married Sgt. Michael Pearce. She also became a stepmother to his daughters Raelene and Charlene, and they adopted their son Kevin in 1988.

Tragedy threatened to split the couple up. Patty’s mother moved in with them but died in 1992, and their daughter drowned in a car accident in 1998.

Patty and Michael were devastated but worked together to overcome their circumstances. They remained married until her death. It seemed that she’d finally found the true love she’d been looking for all her life.

Her Death and Legacy

Patty Duke died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine at the age of 69 on March 29, 2016. Her ashes are interred at the Forest Cemetary in Cour d’Alene, Idaho.

Sean raced to his mother’s side before her death. He said that she died peacefully and was surrounded by loved ones in her last moments.

Patty wrote two memoirs about her life. The first, published in 1987, is called Call Me Anna. It tells of her traumatic childhood and time with the Rosses. The second is called A Brilliant Madness and was released in 1992. It tells of her struggle with mental illness.

Those who warned her that the books would harm her career turned out to be wrong. They were a major success and an important step forward in speaking honestly about mental health. The first one even became a TV movie in 1990.

Patty has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She also won an Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and three Primetime Emmys over the course of her career.

Patty’s son Sean is proud of her career but is more concerned about working to honor her mental health advocacy. He started a Crowd Rise fundraising page to launch the Patty Duke Mental Health Project.

What’s your favorite classic Hollywood tabloid story? Let us know in the comments below. Like and subscribe to Facts Verse for more on the most scandalous celebrity affairs of all time.

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