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Patty Duke is an actress. She has won three Emmy Awards for made-for-television movies. In 1965, at the age of 17, Patty became the youngest person to win an Academy Award in a regular category (Best Supporting Actress) for her role as Helen Keller in the motion-picture version of The Miracle Worker. At the age of 13, Patty starred as Helen Keller in William Gibson's play The Miracle Worker.
As part of Patty's plan to win the Helen Keller role in the play, Patty would practice at being a person with a visual impairment. She would blindfold herself and practice eating, dressing, and moving around. Patty also learned the manual sign language alphabet in preparation for her audition. It was her determination and practice that won her the role as Helen Keller.
Although successful as an actress, Patty was a very unhappy person. In 1982 Patty was finally diagnosed as having a manic-depressive disorder. Manic depression is a disease caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Patty continues to cope with this disability with medication. The medicine is not a cure but makes the symptoms of manic depression easier to control. Patty is still an actress, but also tours the country as a disability advocate, giving talks and answering questions about manic depression and other mental illnesses.
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