On October 19, 1959, two months shy of her 13th birthday, Anna Marie Duke (professionally known as "Patty") made an astonishing Broadway debut in the difficult, demanding role of blind and deaf Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. The 1962 feature film version won Duke an Academy Award for best supporting actress. From 1963 through 1966, she was a TV favorite, playing "identical cousins" in The Patty Duke Show - in which future Guild President William Schallert played her father. Between the years of her Academy Award in 1963, and her resignation as Guild president in 1988, Duke garnered three Emmy Awards, two Golden Globes, a Golden Laurel, and a People's Choice award. Shortly before her election as Guild president, she played the first female President of the United States in the short-lived TV series Hail to the Chief.
Although she'd never served on the Guild's Board of Directors, in 1985, she decided to became a candidate for Guild president, as part of a "Pro-SAG" slate, and was elected in November. In September, 1986, the Guild moved headquarters into the former Hollywood Congregational Church. The church chapel became the James Cagney Boardroom, and Duke humorously commented that this was appropriate because "...we often need to pray when we're in negotiations." During her presidency, the Guild devised a low-budget motion picture agreement giving advantages to productions that hire more women, minorities, seniors, and disabled performers; the Screen Actors Guild Foundation was created; and two strikes were conducted (a six week animation strike in June/July 1987, and a three-week commercials strike in March/April 1988)
In 1987, the year the Guild celebrated its one-billionth dollar in residuals, Duke released her well-received, brutally honest autobiography, Call Me Anna, and successfully ran for a second term as Guild president. In her 1987 candidacy statement she declared: "Together we fought back a potentially devastating theatrical negotiation, survived the animation strike, and fended off 'right to work' threats, while collecting more than one million dollars in residuals per year. As we adjust to a painful dues restructure and hammer away at merger, we look to the pursuit of new jobs, increased benefits, including drug and alcohol counseling, and a major effort among all unions to stop Runaway Production." On June 12, 1988, one of her final actions as Guild president was presenting the Ralph Morgan Award to the Guild's first employee, Midge van Buren Farrell, and first attorney, Larry Beilenson. Three days later, she announced she was resigning the presidency to produce a television film version of her autobiographical book Call Me Anna. 1st Vice President Barry Gordon succeeded her.