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Michael Tell Was Married to Patty Duke for 17 Days: Inside Their Relationship

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Michael Tell was one of the four men Patty Duke married in her lifetime. Patty Duke was a famous Hollywood icon until her passing. She rose to fame after being cast as Helen Keller in the stage and screen adaptations of “The Miracle Worker.” 

Duke was a brilliant actress who enjoyed success in Hollywood, and she was just as famous off the set as she was on it, especially when it came to her personal dating life. 

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Patty Duke from "Me, Natalie."
Patty Duke from “Me, Natalie.” (Source: Pinterest)

Duke got married four different times, but her most famous marriage was her second with the mysterious Michael Tell. Their relationship was one of her most publicized affairs and the briefest. 

How Did Michael Tell Meet Patty Duke? 

In 1987, Duke released an autobiography titled “Call Me Anna.” Within its pages, she detailed how she met Tell. 

According to the late actress, she was about to leave her Sierra Tower apartment when she heard Tell asking for apartments to sublet from a switchboard operator. Duke approached Tell and invited him to see the place.

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Tell, intrigued by her offer, could not turn it down. Duke told him she would be out of town for months, so their second meeting was delayed. However, they did call one another after that first meeting. 

Patty Duke with her son Sean Astin
Patty Duke with her son Sean Astin (Source: Pinterest)

Not long after, she welcomed Tell into her apartment, and their friendship began. Initially, no romance motivated their interactions, and Duke was content. On the other hand, Tell wanted more as he had seemingly caught feelings for the actress. 

Duke had no romantic feelings for him, but the pair got engaged out of nowhere. Before the world could recover from that shock, the couple got married, sealing the deal. The wedding happened on June 24, 1970, at the Little Church of the West in Las Vegas. 

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According to reports, they used a borrowed ring for the ceremony. 

How Long Was Michael Tell Married to Patty Duke? 

Michael Tell and Patty Duke were married for exactly 13 days. They tied the knot on June 26, 1970, and were together until July 9, 1970. It was a short union that blindsided everyone who witnessed it. Tell and Duke married when she was battling severe manic depression and dealing with heartbreak from her split from Desi Arnaz Jr. 

Unfortunately, their union was doomed for failure from the start. Not only was Duke’s heart not in it a hundred percent, but she also quickly realized that Tell was a lavish spender. According to the late star, she visited multiple casinos to pay off his gambling debts. Things got even worse after she publicly announced that she was pregnant. 

Tell found it hard to come to terms with it. He even doubted that the child was his. The day she made the revelation, they had a heated argument until Duke asked a friend for help. 

She then realized their marriage was ridiculous and urged Tell to leave her apartment. 13 days after their union, she divorced him. Duke never saw or heard from Tell again after the argument. In retrospect, it was clear to her that being pregnant was what gave her a way out. 

Tell Is the Father of Patty Duke’s Son 

Even though Michael Tell doubted he was the father of Duke’s unborn child, there was always a possibility that he was. Duke’s son, Sean Astin, was born on February 25, 1971. He was raised thinking John Astin was his biological father. As time passed, rumors about his parents spread.

Duke initially said she had an affair with John while he was still married. However, she kept it under wraps until Sean was born. 

Patty Duke with John Astin
Patty Duke with John Astin (Source: Pinterest)

However, there was more to the story. Later, his mother confessed that Arnaz was his birth father, and Sean started cultivating a relationship with him. However, in 1990, Sean discovered that Tell was his biological father through DNA testing. 

He had run into one of Tell’s relatives who had suggested they were related, so he decided to run a DNA paternal test between himself and the three men. The result proved Tell was his birth dad. 

Sean said in 2001: “If you want to know who I am, John Astin is my father, Michael Tell is my biological father.” He has a working relationship with all three men. However, he sees John Astin as his father.

Sean Astin has also grown closer to Tell and thinks he is a “great guy.” He is now a famous actor like his mother and is recognized as one of the celebrities who have great relationships with their stepdads. Others like him include Kurt Russell, Matt Damon, and Jason Momoa.

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