Patty Duke, the iconic Oscar-winning actress, passed away today at 69. She won awards on the big and small screen and was a passionate advocate for mental health issues. Duke passed away unexpectedly from sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She has three sons and three granddaughters.
1. She Was Unsure of Her First Son’s Paternity, So Her Husband Adopted Him
Duke’s oldest son, Sean Astin, was born in 1971 but his paternity was debated until 1994. She thought for awhile that his biological father was Desi Arnaz, Jr. In 1994, biological testing revealed that Sean’s dad was actually Michael Tell, a rock promoter that Duke was only married to for 13 days. John Astin adopted Sean shortly after he and Duke were married in 1972. John and Duke divorced in 1985.
2. Sean Astin’s Three Daughters All Appeared With Him on ‘The Lord of the Rings’
Sean Astin and his wife, Christine, have three daughters: Alexandra “Ali” Astin, Elizabeth Astin, and Isabella Astin. They all appeared as Elanor Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Sean played their father, Samwise Gamgee. Ali has continued her acting career since appearing in the movie.
3. Her Second Son, Mackenzie Astin, Is Also an Accomplished Actor
Mackenzie Astin, Duke’s middle child, is also an accomplished actor. He was born in 1973 to Duke and John Astin. He’s made guest appearances on TV shows like Lost, House, Psych, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and NCIS. He’s also starred in feature films including Iron Will and Wyatt Earp. Mackenzie and Jennifer Bautz have been married since 2011.
4. She Adopted Her Youngest Son, Kevin Pearce, in 1989
In 1986, Duke married drill sergeant Michael Pearce and they were married until she passed away in 2016. In 1988, they adopted a son, Kevin, who was only a few days old. Kevin is currently engaged and he and Duke and her other children are all very close.
5. Her Stepdaughter Died in a Car Crash in 1998
Duke was very close to her stepchildren. Michael Pearce’s daughter, Raelene Pearce, died in a car crash in 1998 when she was only 22, according to Duke’s official biography. Patty Duke always referred to Raelene as being her daughter. A tribute to Raelene is still posted on Duke’s website. Michael also has another daughter from a previous marriage, Charlene, with whom Patty is very close.
Michael Pearce has several grandchildren that Patty counted as her own, since the families were so close. She shared this one photo of her grandson Charles in November on Twitter: