Patty Duke Dies: Son Sean Astin, More Celebrities Pay Tribute to 'Brave, Outspoken' Star
The actress died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine on Monday morning
Acclaimed child star and Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke is being remembered for her time on the big and small screens, as well as her mental health advocacy and huge heart in the wake of her death at 69 on Tuesday.
Duke died of sepsis from a ruptured intestine, leaving behind her last husband, Michael Pearce, and three sons: Kevin, Sean Astin and Mackenzie Astin, as well as many, many fans.
Leading the tributes was Duke’s son, Goonies star Sean, who shared a baby photo on Facebook, writing, “This morning, our beloved wife, mother, grandmother, matriarch and the exquisite artist, humanitarian, and champion for mental health, Anna PATTY DUKE Pearce, closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place.”
He added, on behalf of the family, “We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life.”
Little House on the Prairie‘s Melissa Gilbert, who played Helen Keller opposite Duke’s Anne Sullivan in a 1979 TV version of The Miracle Worker (Duke won her Academy Award for playing Keller in an earlier adaptation), said in a statement to PEOPLE that the actress’ “passing leaves a huge hole in my heart. She helped raise me to be the woman I am today. She was so loved by so many people including me.”
“She had a mind-boggling depth of talent, a fantastic sense of humor and survived being a child actor in the worst of circumstances,” Gilbert continued. “Anna won every award possible as a performer and as a humanitarian, and it was all well-deserved – she was an extraordinary human being.”
Further, Gilbert shared, “I will miss her every day but I will find comfort in the words of Helen Keller ‘The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched –they must be felt with the heart.’ ”
Helen Keller Services, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of the hearing and visually impaired, also released a statement to PEOPLE, praising Duke’s performance in The Miracle Worker.
“All of us at Helen Keller Services are particularly saddened by the loss of Patty Duke,” read the statement. “Her performance in The Miracle Worker brought Helen Keller’s indomitable spirit to life and inspired generations to pursue careers serving the deaf-blind community. Our thoughts are with Ms. Duke’s family at this sad time.”
Other stars used social media to share their condolences:
In addition to her Oscar, Duke also won three Emmys, as well as two Golden Globes. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982, she used her own struggles to become a vocal advocate for mental health care, and detailed her life with the disease in her 1992 autobiography Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness.