Sean Astin Establishes Patty Duke Mental Health Fund in Late Mom's Memory

Sean Astin and Patty Duke Credit: Jesse Grant/WireImage

Paying it forward. Sean Astin established the Patty Duke Mental Health Project in his mother's honor on Tuesday, March 29, just hours after her death.

As previously reported, the legendary Oscar-winning actress died at the age of 69 from sepsis due to a ruptured intestine. She was best known for starring in the Patty Duke Show from 1963 to 1966 and for portraying Helen Keller in the 1962 movie The Miracle Worker.

Off screen, she was also a dedicated mental health advocate — something Astin was proud of. The Lord of the Rings star, 45, tweeted on Tuesday that Duke, who openly suffered from bipolar disorder, was "a voice for the voiceless." He also linked to the fund's Crowd Rise page.

"She was a healer of many souls and a champion for so many in need. Anna (her given name) fought for civil rights, gay rights and the rights of working actors to name just a few," Astin wrote on the site. "Her greatest achievement was confronting her mental illness and making her story public. She crossed the Nation speaking and campaigning and lobbying for mental health. My mom took her place as a mental health advocate in the greatest tradition of noble leadership."

"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," he continued. "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 multilevel approach to achieving results for those suffering with mental illness, and for 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."

Astin hopes to raise $250,000 for the cause. More than $20,000 has already been donated since he created the fund. For more information, visit here.

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