R.I.P. Patty Duke

The untimely and unfortunate  death of award-winning performer Patty Duke at the age of 69 will lead many baby boomers to remember her 1960’s TV series, “The Patty Duke Show”.

Or more exactly, it will lead many to remember the one of the most effectively earwormy theme songs ever to plague mid-century television.   I don’t remember anything specific from the  stories or the characters – just this opening ditty.

But Duke had  intelligence and determination, and those qualities earned her a level of respect far beyond what one might gain from starring in a simple TV comedy.    Only after reading her obituary did I get a sense for the many personal obstacles she faced, or glimpse what she did,  as a teenager, with the Oscar-winning role of Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker.

That’s an amazing performance, and an admirable life.

What milestone had you reached at age 16? 


46 thoughts on “R.I.P. Patty Duke”

  1. at 16 i was making milestones by being a wanderer who was not lost.
    searching for the answers i didnt know the questions to.

    patty duke was so good in the miracle worker and so cute in the patty duke show that it came as a shock to realize years later of her situation

    my two youngest are 14 and 16 today and the maturity on one level they are living at is amazing. the milestones they cross are amazing. today is finals for the quarter and they are both prepared. thats a milestone too

    Liked by 5 people

    1. just got the report form emma the youngest that her math final was a piece of cake in great degree to help from birs husband michael. thanks michael from both of us.
      her sisters comment upon hearing that emmas test was easy was ” hooray we are both going to college” she is math challanged too and realizes that in this world math and college are part of the milestone markers you have to get under your belt.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Morning all. Miracle Worker brings on the tears every single time. Guaranteed. Even the remake in which Patty Duke played Sullivan, although the whole isn’t nearly as good as the original when she played Keller.

    I launched a few humanitarian efforts before I was 16. They were very small scale, but meant something to me. When I was in the 6th grade I went around the neighborhood with my friend’s wagon and collected pop bottles from people and then dragging them up to the Kellogg’s grocery store. I think over the course of month I probably raised about $50 which I donated to someplace that I don’t even remember! Then in 8th grade, I organized a campaign to make Red Cross care packages; I got other students to bring in washcloths, toothbrushes, band-aids, etc. and we made little package of them and took them to the Red Cross office. (Not sure where the idea came from but we probably made 100 little packages.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I had my first pimple. I milked many cows by that age. Ben milked more thanks to DeLaval, which we eschewed. Sounds like a John Henry song.
    Mr. Tuxedo turns 11 today. He read 4000 pages in March. The kids journal their reading every March.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. i wrote a long reply that the internet saved you all form having to read. it vaporized.
      in a nut shell i was wondering if mr tuexdo knows hes mr tuxedo on the trail (or cares) and if the name still fits or if that was a phase he was passing through.
      i was commenting that 100 pages a day is a lot for a person and i hope he is getting out there and living life.
      i had the good fortune of being so interested in so many things i couldnt wait to get out there and do the next thing. i didnt even often wonder what it was going to be i knew it would be fascinating and rewarding and i was right.
      at age 16 i told my dad who was not a liberal in the hippy sense that i needed to get out and experience at this particular point in time because certainly in a few years that option would be off the table. he said that yeah that was probably true and gave me his blessing and i grabbed my 14 year old brother and away we went. i remember the canadian cops being a little head scratchy as i told them yes of course my parents said it was ok for me to take my brother along. it was a different time.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Patty Duke Show was a little under my age set. Do not remember the music. Remember her father, or think Ido, was played by Dobie Gillis’s teacher, a character actor of constant work, and a good one. William Schattler? I will look it up.


      1. he was one of those actors who made you wonder if they ever got frustrated at being placed in the same notch every time. it wasnt acting it was reading the lines. always the same guy always the same delivery. kind of the opposite of kirk douglas


        1. Not every time. I can think of a Perry Mason episode where he eventually cracked on the stand and admitted he was the murderer!


        2. it must have been the highlight of his career. he got to present the same lines and then have a flurry of emotion in an in character sort of way


      1. i thought of that the other day with the kid driving the cement truck at age 14 or whatever he was. high speed chase in a cement truck made me smile. i always pull over right away when they turn the gumballs on. i have wondered what it would be like to give em a run.


      2. Nope, I didn’t do the 15 yr old thing.
        Way back in them days, drivers Ed was through the high school. ‘Drivers Ed’ was a class. We had the driving simulator in the trailer parked out behind the school. We had 1/2 the big parking lot with the instructor in the ‘command truck’ and he could communicate with us through the AM radio. We couldn’t talk back of course, but with the big number strapped to the car, he could say ‘Car 4, you didn’t stop at that stop sign’ or ‘Car 6 slow down!’

        I remember getting my permit on a snowy day. Mom still made me drive home in the snow. Which scared me silly. But wow– good on her. Nerves of steel my mom.

        I drove around the fields of course… driving the stick shift pick up and following dad on the combine was the best exercise.


    1. I could drive a farm vehicle outside of city limits at the age of 14, which I did. I could have had a license at 15, but because I could drive where I needed to drive, my parents said I could wait.


      1. I still remember Teenager failing her first test. When I went out to the car, she’d been crying, mascara running down her cheeks. “She was so mean!” Then, of course she thought she shouldn’t have to go to school because she’d failed it. Still makes me chuckle to think of it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I volunteered to teach my daughter to drive. That was the dumbest thing I ever did in a long lifetime of questionable decisions. But we survived.

          My mother . . . well, that was different. She learned to drive on empty gravel roads in the 1920s and never got the hang of it. Her incompetence wasn’t an issue in Iowa. When we moved to Minnesota she was forced to earn her driver’s license all over, including the driving test. She flunked once or twice. I was along to observe her last attempt. The test culminated with her maneuvering the car into a parallel parking slot (only they used traffic cones to mark the spot she was supposed to fit into). Mom managed to hit all four traffic cones, sending them skittering. The examiner took a deep breath and marked her test sheet to show she had passed. “Please, madam, tell me you won’t ever try to parallel-park again!” She promised.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yea, that me…the original tough love mom. I told her that if every teenager who failed a driving test skipped school, the halls of those institutions would be empty!


  5. I think it was Tom Lehrer who addressed this issue by noting “By the time he was my age, Mozart had been dead for two years.”

    I think the only shattering event in the year I was sixteen was discovering what I called “girls.” And, gee, what a complicated and troubling thing that has been.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. My most proud milestone…achievement at 16 was passing my Red Cross Sr. Lifesaving course allowing me to lifeguard and, my favorite, teach swimming lessons. I was a very caring, active, crazy, erratic , extremely emotional young gal. Prolific in my poetry and guitar/song writing….and my artwork.

    About seven years ago I was treated for what was yet undetermined, but diagnosed PTSD. That also opened up the ‘watershed’ to diagnose a grouping which included bi polar disorder amongst ADHD, GAD, and dyslexia. (The later two I was aware) Evidentslly it is common for the later three to be a ‘part of’ bi polar. I’ve gone through therapy/counciling, med changes/corrections and successful treatment for PTSD. I am on minimal but necessary medication. I am a survivor of mental disorders!

    I am grateful to Patty Duke for her work with NAMI…going public with her diagnosis and life of bi polar disorder. She was a tireless activist. I am involved with Bringchange2mind…an organization started by Glenn Close. (many PSAs on YouTube) Glenn’s sister is bi polar, brother is schizophrenic and she recently made public her bouts with depression disorder.

    I’ve veered away from the question of milestone at 16…but all my milestones were affected by the mental disorders I have but did not understand and I tried to hide. I tried to be ‘normal’. At 18 i remember telling my folks that I could only be me…I didn’t know how to be anything else ‘tho I’d tried.

    The work Patty Duke began made great strides in public awareness of bi polar and mental health issues. I am grwteful and thankful.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. we are so lucky to be in a time when these things are uch more openly discussed and dealt with. there is still way too much guilt misunderstanding and backlash associated but even to understand that we dont understand is a great beginning at going forward.
      your name will help me remember your dyslexia going forward

      Liked by 2 people

      1. As I prepare to sit Shiva with T’s family on Saturday, and his memorial service on Sunday, I’m amply reminded that although we have made giant strides, we have not come far enough with regard to mental health issues. Still too much stigma, fear, and shame attached, still too much prejudice and misinformation.

        Having grown up with a mother with severe mental illnes at a time when both diagnosis and treatment seemed like a crap shoot, I have a deep appreciation for the progress that has been made. Then a tragedy like T’s happen, and I realize how far we have yet to go.

        I applaud you, slilyss, for speaking up and not hiding what shouldn’t be a shameful secret.

        Liked by 5 people

  7. By age 16 I had developed an interest in biology and nature study. At that point I didn’t know what to do with those interests. I also was a fairly good student although I found school work to be very boring and wasn’t one of the top students in my class.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. hey renee
    sorry i missed the blog yesterday. what a nicely written piece. and what a fun undertaking. i went to ireland in a time when i didnt think i cared about the family name thing and they wouldnt let me get a way with it. by the time i left i had wished i had done the kind of research you have here. and in germany it should be really cool. go check out the graveyards too. all those names sitting on 500 year old stones is really cool.
    when i first went to ireland i saw a bunch of folks who looked like me but it didnt occur to me i was among my own people until in northern ireland i was getting flipped the bird and sworn at because i had the republic license plates on my rent a car and they thought i was obviously an ira radical, when i went to germany and the netherlands i was pleased to see so many women who looked like my wife. i didnt realize before going over there that germany and holland share a border so the marriage of a german to a dutch is kind of like a norweigan and a swede, maybe a big deal to them but not too much outside the incestuous little community of purbreds. geeze you germans al look so pleasant with those rosey cheeks and sparkling eyes … then the other shoe drops and katie bar te door.
    i had a great time in the bars over there too. they love drinking and all that comes with it. try to reserve a night for letting your hair down in a german sort of way. mit schnitzel ya?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Boy, I’m havin’ a hard time coming up with something. It was probably at 16 when I got m one and only 4.0 in school. My dad was elated, may have started dreaming of scholarships, but that was the last one. I did pass the driving test on the first try – in a snowstorm, so it was so slippery it didn’t matter that we had no power steering. I remember being interested in boys, and I was proud to complete the insect collection needed for Biology.


  10. By the time I turned sixteen I had graduated from the Danish equivalent of high school, and joined the work force. At a time when most of my friends had committed to either a three or four year apprenticeship of some sort, or were pursuing higher education, I just meandered blithely out into the world. I wasn’t so much in pursuit of anything as I was running away from a miserable childhood. Couldn’t really get much traction until I turned eighteen, but then I took off.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. OT: My ** daughter-in-law** flew to Ohio for a wedding and to pick up a car her uncle found for her to drive back to San Diego with her mother. In Arizona they stopped for gas and a few miles down the road the Check Engine light came on. Neither she not her mother navigate well. So with the distraction they got lost and ended up on a side road with a speed limit of 45 mph, which they did not see while trying to find their way back to the Interstate distracted by the Check Engine light. A cop pulled them over. She was driving a car with temporary Ohio plates registered to a San Diego address and carrying a Washington drivers license (she has not gotten around to switching her license). The cop listened to their story, checked her and the car out and led her back to the Interstate and gave no ticket.
    Turns out that if you do not tighten the gas cap all the way down the Check Engine light comes on.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I got my driver’s license when I was twenty. Always a late bloomer.

    Oh, boy, I remember the theme song from the Patty Duke Show. It resurfaces at odd moments. Earwormy, indeed.


    1. Don’t know if it’s any consolation, Linda, but I was 23 years old before I ever sat behind the steering wheel of a car and finally got my driver’s license. In beautiful Cheyenne. Wasband taught me how to drive on the back roads – of which there were plenty.


  13. I loved Patty Duke though, was awed by the fact that she was just a year or so older than me and could act like that, handle two roles just like Hayley Mills had in The Parent Trap… Glad she seemed to find her way eventually.


    1. i was 6 and my mom asked me who my favorite actor and actress were. i told her john wayne and haley mills. she spit her coffee across the room. i didnt understand why she thought that was funny. she was very tactful and said it was just that they were so solid exp manly man and a girly girl. i wasnt amused that she thought i was picking something short of perfect. annette was food but haley mills. what a heart throb
      i remember those in the neghborhood movie theaters the moon spinners and the castaways….

      Liked by 1 person

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