The Miracle Worker (1979 film)

The Miracle Worker
Based onThe Miracle Worker
by William Gibson
Screenplay byWilliam Gibson
Directed byPaul Aaron
StarringMelissa Gilbert
Patty Duke
Charles Siebert
Stanley Wells
Diana Muldaur
Music byBilly Goldenberg
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersSandy Gallin
Raymond Katz
ProducersFred Coe
Barbara Abeles Cowan (associate producer)
Alan David (assistant producer)
Production locationsBig Sky Ranch - 4927 Bennett Road, Simi Valley, California
CinematographyTed Voigtlander
EditorGerald Lee Taylor
Running time98 minutes
Production companyHalf-Pint Productions
Original networkNBC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseOctober 14, 1979 (1979-10-14)

The Miracle Worker is a 1979 American made-for-television biographical film based on the 1959 play of the same title by William Gibson, which originated as a 1957 broadcast of the television anthology series Playhouse 90. Gibson's original source material was The Story of My Life, the 1903 autobiography of Helen Keller. The play was adapted for the screen before, in 1962.

The film is based on the life of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan's struggles to teaching her. It starred Patty Duke (who played Helen Keller in the original 1962 film, for which she won the Oscar) as Annie Sullivan and Melissa Gilbert as Helen Keller. It produced a TV sequel, Helen Keller: The Miracle Continues in 1984.

Plot Young Helen Keller (Melissa Gilbert), blind, deaf, and mute since infancy, is in danger of being sent to an institution. Her inability to communicate has left her frustrated and violent. In desperation, her parents seek help from the Perkins Institute, which sends them a "half-blind Yankee schoolgirl" named Annie Sullivan (Patty Duke) to tutor their daughter. Through persistence and love, and sheer stubbornness, Annie breaks through Helen's walls of silence and darkness and teaches her to communicate.



Melissa Gilbert heavily campaigned Meredith Baxter to play the role of Anne Sullivan.

British actress, Lynne Frederick, had expressed interest playing Anne Sullivan. Despite her lengthy and accomplished body of work, the producers told Frederick that she was “far too pretty” for the part.

Patty Duke, who played Anne Sullivan, previously played the role of Helen Keller in the 1962 film of the same title.

Awards and nominations

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Television Special Gerald Lee Taylor Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Specials/Movies for TV/Actuality Paul Aaron Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Film Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama or Comedy Special Fred Coe, Sandy Gallin and Raymond Katz Won
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special Patty Duke Won
Melissa Gilbert Nominated
Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or a Special Ted Voigtlander Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling Larry Germain and Donna Barrett Gilbert Won

See also

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