“I think maybe the most important part of her legacy is her acting work,” Astin said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Above and beyond anything, the reason any of the other stuff is possible in terms of the scope of the impact that she was able to have with people was her talent and her work and her work ethic, her discipline. She worked extremely hard.”
Astin also said that Duke’s work on behalf of people with mental health issues was incredibly important to her, as she herself suffered from bipolar disorder.
“She had her speeches, her mental health speeches,” he said. “She literally traveled all over the country and lobbied Congress … She was a blistering advocate for her cause and that was just the biggest and most important cause. She worked on behalf of so many causes, fundraisers and grand marshals in parades. She did it all.”
Astin also thanked his mother’s fans for their support and tributes when she passed away after a long string of serious ailments.
“It’s just such an affirmation of the best part of her and such a relief to be able to enjoy that as opposed to the pain that everyone was feeling,” he said. “We’re so grateful to her for living a life that generates that amount of compassion and feeling in others.”
Duke started her career as a child actress on the daytime soap opera “The Brighter Day,” and in 1963 she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for “The Miracle Worker” when she was just 16, becoming the youngest Academy Award winner at the time. She remains the third-youngest Oscar winner in history, trailing Tatum O’Neal and Anna Paquin.