The Miracle Worker
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Miracle Worker can be found here.

Seven-year-old Helen Keller (Patty Duke) has been blind and deaf since a bout with scarlet fever at the age of 19 months. Pampered and spoiled by her parents, Helen gets her way by hitting, kicking, and throwing tantrums. Unable to deal with her, her parents send for a teacher from the Perkins School for the Blind. Annie Sullivan (Anne Bancroft), once blind herself but now sighted thanks to nine operations on her eyes, is determined to break through Helen's world of darkness and silence, but it won't be easy.

The Miracle Worker was adapted for this movie by American playwright William Gibson from a play that he wrote for a 1957 Playhouse 90 broadcast, which was, in turn, based on Helen Keller's autobiography The Story of My Life (1903). Two made-for-TV remakes have also been released -- The Miracle Worker (1979) and The Miracle Worker (2000).

Jimmie was born with a "tubercular hip" and died from tuberculosis when he was about eight years old.

How does the movie end?

Upon Helen's return to the Keller household, she quickly reverts back to her old ways. At dinner, she throws her napkin to the floor several times and seems to be testing her parents and Annie to see just how much she can get away with. When Annie attempts to remove her from the dining table, Helen throws a grand tantrum, tossing a pitcher of water at Annie. Hauling Helen out to the pump to refill the pitcher, Annie lets the water tumble over Helen's hands as she fingerspells w-a-t-e-r. Suddenly, as though a lightbulb goes on inside, Helen tries to say 'water,' although it comes out 'wa...wa.' Realizing that Helen has just made the connection between the fingerspellings and the word for an object, Annie excitedly nods, 'Yes!' Helen dashes from object to object, asking its name -- ground...pump...tree...step...bell. The Kellers come out on the porch...mother...papa...and Annie tells them, 'She knows!' After many hugs, Helen pokes Annie, asking for her name. Annie spells out t-e-a-c-h-e-r. Helen pats the pocket on her mother's dress, asking for the keys she put there. Helen takes the keys and offers them to Annie, a sign that Helen is finally willing to welcome Annie as her teacher. In the final scene, just before bedtime, Helen comes into Annie's room and kisses her cheek. They rock together for a while, as Annie spells out i-l-o-v-e-h-e-l-e-n.

First of all, Helen Keller was not mute. Secondly, she wasn't born deaf and blind. She lost her sight and hearing during an illness (historians report the illness as possible scarlet fever or meningitis) when she was 19 months old. At the time she was stricken, she had already begun learning words and their meanings as well as how to say them. One of the words she remembered from her early childhood was "wah...wah" for "water". When Helen was about six years old, she began working with Annie Sullivan, whose big breakthrough (or "miracle") came when Helen was able to make the connection between the things in her environment, e.g., water, and the finger patterns that Annie was spelling into her palms.

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