In an exclusive interview with Closer Weekly, William Schallert — who played Patty Duke’s father on The Patty Duke Show — reacts to the beloved star’s death this morning of sepsis from a ruptured intestine at age 69.

“When I think of her, she’s family as far as I’m concerned. We had a very close relationship. Whenever I saw her it was always like greeting one of my kids,” William tells Closer.

“She just had a wonderful quality and I got to know her over the years and she was admirable in a lot of ways. She really did her best to raise her own kids and she certainly had very little help in her own life to do that, but she was very mature and she did a lot of growing up very fast. People take that kind of thing for granted far too easily, and she doesn’t get the credit she deserves for that.”

patty duke william schallert getty images

William and Patty on The Patty Duke Show in 1964.

William tells Closer he admired Patty for being one of the first to go public with her bipolar disorder. “She was one of the pioneers who stuck her neck out so to speak to say ‘here I am’ at a time where people didn’t do that,” William says. “She had the courage to do it and she did a lot of good, I think, by doing that and by the rest of her life by example.”

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“For someone as young as she to step forward to say ‘we’re going to talk about this’ — it showed quite remarkable maturity and real bravery on her part because that was not the kind of news that people wanted to hear until they found out what she was talking about. I think she did a lot of good.”

For more from William, pick up the next issue of Closer Weekly!