Gilbert, who shared the screen with Duke in 1979's The Miracle Worker, goes on to reflect on Duke's achievements as an actor, her family, and her mental health advocacy work. Read on for her entire statement.
"She had a mind-boggling depth of talent, a fantastic sense of humor and survived being a child actor in the worst of circumstances. Anna won every award possible as a performer and as a humanitarian, and it was all well-deserved -- she was an extraordinary human being.
She got so many people to see mental illness as what it really is, and led the effort to de-stigmatize it. She truly understood mental illness at its core and worked her entire life to help those who suffer from it.
She inspired me to be a better actor, a better mother, and a better person. She was an advocate and activist, and my mentor. I was just so lucky to have known her for almost 40 years. She loved people ferociously and adored her family. I was blessed be a part of that.
Today, my heart aches for her big beautiful family, but I know she’s in a better place. I will miss her every day but I will find comfort in the words of Helen Keller: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched-they must be felt with the heart.'"
A rep for Duke tells ET she died from sepsis due to a ruptured intestine.
Her family told ET in a statement, "This morning, our beloved wife, mother, matriarch, and the exquisite artist, humanitarian, and champion of mental health, Anna 'Patty Duke' Pearce, closed her eyes, quieted her pain and ascended to a beautiful place," adding, "We celebrate the infinite love and compassion she shared through her work and throughout her life."
In the wake of Duke's death, Hollywood has been paying their respects. Actor William Shatner tweeted, "Very saddened on the passing of Patty Duke. She was a wonderful friend on Twitter. Condolences to her family."
Very saddened on the passing of Patty Duke. She was a wonderful friend on Twitter. Condolences to her family.
After Duke's son, Sean Astin, posted a moving remembrance to Facebook, his Lord of the Rings co-star, Elijah Wood, reached out with support, tweeting, "My heart goes out to @SeanAstin and the entire family. #PattyDuke."