Beloved ’60s Star, Oscar Winner Dead— Cause of Death Now Known

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You knew her as twins on television and a gifted but disadvantaged character on the big screen. She is household name having been in the public eye since her young years. Tragically, today, she passed away.

Entertainment outlets are reporting that, Patty Duke, who won a best supporting actress Oscar for her performance as Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker and starred as two cousins on her own sitcom, has died, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. She was 69.

“This morning, our beloved wife, mother, matriarch and the exquisite artist, humanitarian and champion of mental health, Anna Patty Duke, closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place,” read a family statement. “We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life.”

Although she performed in films, theater and TV, Duke was most successful in her TV acting career. Overall, she won three Emmy Awards: The Miracle Worker, Captains and Kings and My Sweet Charlie, among eight total nominations.

At the same age, Duke was also the youngest up to that time of having a TV series bearing her name, The Patty Duke Show, which ran for three seasons, beginning in 1963. Duke was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1965 for her dual performance as two identical cousins.

Duke married Michael Pearce in 1986. They had one child, Kevin. She was married three times before, and had two children with her third husband John Astin: Sean and Mackenzie, both actors.

Update— Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke, star of “The Patty Duke Show” and the Broadway play and film “The Miracle Worker,” died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine on Tuesday.

Simple though it may seem, her death announcement is a major milestone for the sepsis awareness movement, said Thomas Heymann, executive director of the Sepsis Alliance. The more people are aware of this condition, Heymann said, the stronger their likelihood of saving their own lives or the lives of their loved ones.

“The fact that they said Patty Duke’s cause of death was sepsis is relatively new,” Heymann said. “It very often would have been left as a complication of surgery or an infection, but it’s not a complication — it’s sepsis.”

Sepsis, a reaction to infection that leads to systemic organ failure, kills more than 258,000 Americans every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making it the ninth-leading cause of disease-related deaths in the country. While most people can fully recover from sepsis, some survivors are left with permanent organ damage or missing limbs due to amputation. 

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