Celebrity News

Sean Astin pays tribute to Oscar-winning mum Patty Duke

The Lord of the Rings star has written a beautiful tribute to his late mother, who sadly passed away on March 29
Sean Astin, Patty Duke

Sean took to Facebook to pen a heartfelt post honouring his mother, who rose to fame in 1962’s The Miracle Worker and later, The Patty Duke Show.

Sharing a black and white baby photo of himself with his mother, Sean wrote of Patty’s “infinite love and compassion” while also drawing attention to her work as a passionate mental health advocate.

“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,” Sean wrote.

“We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life.”

Sean shared this baby photo on Facebook as a tribute to his late mother. Photo: Facebook/Sean Astin

Patty, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker at just 16 years of age, died on March 29 after suffering sepsis from a ruptured intestine, according to the official statement released by her rep. The actress was 69 years old.

She is survived by her husband Michael Pearce and her three children – Sean, 45, Mackenzie Astin, 42 and Kevin Pearce, 28.

Patty – who was born Anna Duke – rose to fame in her early years playing Helen Keller in a Broadway play. The production was eventually adapted into the film that won her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

She went on to enjoy a prolific career in Hollywood, building on her early success as a child star and winning three Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes for her work in both film and TV.

During her time in the spotlight, Patty also became an outspoken advocate for mental health. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982 and became one of the first celebrities to talk openly about mental health. She devoted much of her life to raising awareness of the need for funding, research and support for people living with mental illnesses and worked with organisations such as the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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Patty with her sons Mackenzie and Sean at the 2004 ceremony where she received a star on the Walk of Fame. Photo: Getty

Now, son Sean is carrying on his late mother’s legacy with the Patty Duke Mental Health Project. In the Crowdrise page for the project, which has a $250,000 goal, the actor wrote of how her work campaigning for mental health was Patty’s “greatest achievement”.

“My mom took her place as a mental health advocate in the greatest tradition of noble leadership,” he wrote.

“Ultimately, her colossal energy and indomitable spirit charged her life and bolstered the sense of purpose and intention that defined her existence. Through countless and often agonizing struggles, she was a deeply committed and tireless WARRIOR.

“Before her passing, before the suffering became too great, we talked about how the core mission of her mental health work might continue beyond her life. This initiative will fuel a multi-level approach to achieving results for those suffering with mental illness and their families and communities. Public awareness campaigns, lobbying efforts, and supporting a multitude of mental health programs big and small will be organized, prioritized and vigorously pursued.”

Patty at a reunion of the Patty Duke Show in 2010. Photo: Getty

Since the news of Patty’s death broke, other stars have come forward to honour the late actress on Twitter, including Sean’s LOTR co-star Elijah Wood, Glee actor Chris Colfer and The Middle star Patricia Heaton.

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