Patty Duke is an actress that becomes famous at an early age thanks to her powerful portrayal of the character. It is Helen Keller in the Broadway play The Miracle Worker, as well as its 1963 Hollywood adaptation. Sadly, Patty’s early fame isn’t all that it cracks up to be. Patty suffers from mood swings early on in life and it affects her relationship with her first son, Sean Astin. Join Facts Verse as Patty Duke’s son reveals some of the painful truths of her tragic life.
Patty Duke was an American actress that rose to fame while portraying Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. She receives her own show in the form of The Patty Duke Show, which portrays identical twins to great acclaim. Patty experiences great success in the entertainment industry. There’s always a dark side to the actress that prevents her from enjoying the fruits of her labor. Patty experienced numerous childhood traumas and began suffering from mood swings at an early age. These mood swings will define the actress’s life and she diagnoses with bipolar disorder.
Amid Patty Duke’s lifelong battle with mental illness, there were several periods when the actress was genuinely happy. One of these periods is during her marriage to television star John Astin, in his time on The Addams Family. Patty married John in 1972 and became a mother to his three sons from a previous marriage. The two had a couple of sons of their own as well: Sean and Mackenzie. As we all know, Sean Astin becomes an actor himself, appearing as a child in films such as The Goonies. Before, he is successful as an adult in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies.
Patty’s new family brings her a great deal of happiness. There’s still a dark side to the actress that prevents her from being there for her new children. After Mackenzie is born, Patty lies in bed for months at a time due to severe depression. It causes her mood swings. Mood swings bring insanity where Patty’s children feel as if their lives are at risk from their mother’s abusive behavior. According to Sean, Patty could be both emotionally and physically abusive to her children during her periods of mania. Sean shares that she’s jealous of any attention the children receive from their father, which causes her to abuse them.
Patty diagnoses with bipolar disorder, she is unsure of how to deal with her mood swings or what’s causing them. To deal with these crippling mood swings, Patty turned to recreational drug use. Sadly, Patty’s self-medication only worsened the problem. Sean recalls that his mother’s drug use gets so bad at certain points that he worries for her life. At an age when he is too young even to be aware of the concept of mortality. Patty gets the help she needs. There’s damage to her and John’s marriage, as well as to her relationship with the five children. It will never fix during her lifetime.
Sean carries the damage done by his mother’s abuse with him to this day. His mother brings the guilt of what she’s done to her grave. Patty diagnoses with bipolar disorder in 1982. At the time, the condition is “manic depression”, and Patty prefers to continue using the term “manic depression”. Even after the term “bipolar disorder” introduces because she feels that “manic depression” is a more fitting term. The way that the condition feels to be experienced firsthand.
In order to combat Patty’s bipolar disorder, she receives a prescription for lithium. The lithium helps the actress a great deal. Most of the issues that she suffered on in her life vanished soon after her 1982 diagnosis. However, the dark shadow of Patty’s past actions still loomed over the family she shared with John Astin. As well, a paternity test later revealed that John wasn’t actually Sean’s biological father. Instead, the father is a man that Patty marries during one of her manic episodes.
Patty receives treatment for her bipolar disorder. She takes it upon herself to become an advocate for other people like her that are suffering from the condition but hadn’t yet been diagnosed. She believes that if she spread awareness about bipolar disorder, there’ll be fewer people out there going through it alone. Patty views her work as advocating for increased awareness of bipolar disorder. One of the first major public figures to publicly come out with such a diagnosis. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show us a little support! Subscribe to the channel if you’d like to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
The fact that Patty Duke’s 1982 diagnosis of bipolar disorder helps her turn her life around. She starts using her negative experiences for good, her marriage to John Astin won’t survive the rest of the decade. The marriage that she shares with John, as well as the five children, remains a defining influence on the actress’s life after their separation.
It’s hard for Sean to forgive his mother for what she did to him at an early age. It is also hard for Patty Duke to forgive herself. Sadly, the demons that plague Patty passes on to her by her parents, who suffer from depression and alcoholism. The poor condition of Patty’s parents isn’t even the most disturbing trauma that comes about from the actress’s childhood, as she receives up by her parents and put under the care of abusive talent managers when she was only 8. While this opened up the opportunity for Patty to become the famous Hollywood star the world knows and loves, it also opened up the floodgates of childhood traumas that would plague the actress until her dying days.
In 1987, Patty Duke released an autobiographical tell-all memoir titled Call Me Anna. The title of the book was referring to Patty’s birth name. Patty’s first name changes to its more famous variant when she receives over to her new caregivers, and the name of “Patty” views by the actress as a symbol of her oppression. The talent managers that Patty Duke receives from her parents, John and Ethel Ross. Patty served as both their daughter and their worker. The two say to exert total control over every facet of Patty’s life. Although they found the young girl a great deal of work in the entertainment industry, they charged exuberant fees for their services as her managers.
While Patty Duke’s new manager’s parents worked the girl to the bone and took all of her money was bad enough, John Ross also allegedly touched Patty inappropriately on several occasions – disgusting incidents that caused the young girl to vomit. Although Patty felt she was stuck with John and Ethel Ross, she would take the first opportunity that she could to get out of their clutches.
Under the orders of John and Ethel Ross, Patty rose to fame at a young age portraying Helen Keller on Broadway in The Miracle Worker. She later reprised her role as the character in that film’s 1963 Hollywood adaptation. Patty’s work as the blind and deaf Helen Keller received massive acclaim from critics and audiences, resulting in Patty winning an Academy Award at the age of only 16. Sadly, Patty’s birth mother was barred from attending the ceremony.
Patty had a hard time enjoying the success she was experiencing in the entertainment industry since her abusive managers were still controlling her. Later, Patty would get away from John and Ethel Ross. However, first she would appear on The Patty Duke Show, which saw the young actress tasked with playing identical twins. The show further raised the young actress’s profile and became a fairly big hit with audiences. Once again, Patty had a hard time enjoying the fruits of her labor due to the abuse she was suffering back at home.
In 1965, Patty finally found a way to break free from John and Ethel Ross. She married a man by the name of Harry Falk, who was an assistant director that she had met on one of her sets. Although the marriage offered Patty liberation from the abusive managers that had raised her since the age of 8, new problems also began arising in the form of Patty’s rapidly evolving mood swings.
Patty has expressed that she had begun experiencing mood swings as early as the age of 6, but they became much worse when she got out of the control of John and Ethel Ross. With her newfound freedom, Patty began turning to drugs such as Valium to combat the emptiness that she felt inside after years of abuse and neglect. Patty’s marriage to Harry Falk only lasted four years, during which time Patty was also said to have become anorexic.
After divorcing Harry Falk after only four years, Patty married John Astin in 1972, and their marriage lasted for well over a decade. After divorcing John, Patty married once more, and that marriage became the happiest of Patty’s life before her death in 2016. That marriage was to a man by the name of Michael Pierce. The two married in 1986 and adopted a son together that they named Kevin. According to Sean, his mother was able to find forgiveness for the abuse that she had been subjected to in the past while raising Kevin.
Even though Patty Duke was essentially forced into acting against her will, she is still celebrated for her many iconic portrayals on the screen throughout her career. Comment down below to share what your favorite role from Patty’s career is, or if you were saddened to learn about the rocky relationship between her and her son, Sean Astin. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!