People of a certain age remember actress Patty Duke for her portrayal of a
pair of look-alike teenaged cousins in the 1960s sitcom "The Patty Duke
Show." Cousin Patty was spunky and outgoing, while cousin Cathy was
refined and worldly. The dueling personalities portrayed by the same actress
ironically presaged another type of duality Duke understood when she was
diagnosed with bipolar disorder in
Duke will share her experiences with mental illness at the"
Conversations" event at APA's 2008 annual meeting in Washington,
D.C., on Tuesday, May 6, at 5:30 p.m., in Hall D of the Washington Convention
Center. This event is sponsored by the American Psychiatric Foundation, APA's
Duke has been in the spotlight since she was a child. She was born Anna
Marie Duke in Queens, N.Y. Her father was an alcoholic, and her mother had
depression with bouts of violence. When Duke was 8, her mother turned her care
over to her managers. She began her acting career in the early 1950s on live
TV and stage. Her portrayal of the blind, deaf, and mute Helen Keller in"
The Miracle Worker" launched Duke as one of America's finest
young talents and won her an Oscar at the age of 16, the youngest person ever
to win at the time.
Duke went on to perform in a long list of stage, movie, and TV productions,
earning many awards along the way. In addition to the Oscar, she has won two
Golden Globes, three Emmy Awards, and a People's Choice Award. One of her nine
Emmy nominations was for her work in "The Patty Duke Show." She
also served twice as president of the Screen Actors Guild.
Duke's personal life did not go as smoothly. She had experienced mental
health problems long before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982.
Showing uncommon courage for the time, she was among the first celebrities who
spoke openly about her disorder, leading the way for other well-known
personalities to educate people about mental illness and thus reduce its
The next stage of her career saw her become a best-selling author and
mental health advocate. Her autobiography, Call Me Anna, was
published in 1987, and another book, A Brilliant Madness: Living With
Manic-Depressive Illness, was published in 1992. She has twice spoken
before Congress to raise funds for research. To continue her effort to reduce
the stigma associated with mental illness, she started a Web site and blog in
called "The Patty Duke Online Center for Mental Wellness," which
has become a primary vehicle for information and support for people dealing
with mental illness. Information about mental illness is also posted on her
Web site at<www.officialpattyduke.com/home.htm>.
Duke's work as a mental health advocate has brought her many accolades. She
was recently appointed to the National Advisory Council of the Center for
Mental Health Services. In 2006 she received the Lionel Aldridge Award from
the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the first Rebecca's Dream Legacy
of Life Award from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Last December
she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of North Florida for
her work in advancing awareness of mental health issues.
The American Psychiatric Foundation launched the"
Conversations" series six years ago so that psychiatrists could
hear from people whose daily lives have been affected by mental illness.▪