An unforgettable farewell. Sean Astin spoke with Entertainment Tonight about his touching final moments with his mom, Patty Duke, who died at age 69 on Tuesday, March 29.
“There was a nurse in the room, a priest, and then there was my stepdad and me. And we watched her receive this blessing. And she was in great pain before it started, and at the end she was in peace,” the 45-year-old actor told ET about his late mother. “When it was over, we all looked at each other and we thought, you can be an atheist, a skeptic, agnostic, you can be whatever you want, but what just happened in this room is indescribably beautiful.”
Astin also took a moment to reflect back on Duke’s legacy as a mental health advocate. After the actress was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1982, she dedicated much of her career to raising awareness for similar conditions.
“All of a sudden, [here] was this thing that, not only was it important for her own life, because now she could design a caregiving plan, and she could get medication, and there was a name for what her series of symptoms was,” he explained. “But now she had a new identity and a whole new mission, a whole new sense of purpose, and that was to share what she had gone through with other people.”
Aside from her advocacy, Duke is best known for winning an Oscar as a teen for 1962’s The Miracle Worker and for starring in her own sitcom The Patty Duke Show, which ran for three seasons from 1963 to 1966.
As Us Weekly previously reported, the Hollywood veteran passed away due to a medical emergency. Her rep, Mitchell Stubbs, confirmed the news in a statement to USA Today: “Anna ‘Patty Duke’ Pearce passed away this morning March 29, 2016 at 1:20 a.m. Her cause of death was sepsis from a ruptured intestine. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a mental health advocate and a cultural icon. She will be missed.”
As recently as March 1, Duke took to social media to acknowledge her absence from the spotlight, telling fans: “Hi tweethearts and FB friends. I have been absent, but not far, believe me. I love and miss you all. Hopefully back more soon and often.”
In addition to son Astin, she is survived by her husband Michael Pearce and two other children: Kevin Pearce, 28, and actor Mackenzie Astin, 42.
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