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Sunday, June 01, 2003

Death of Helen Keller 35 Years Ago Recalled

Then, as now, June 1 fell on a Sunday and by the time the day was over in 1968, the Westport, Conn. dateline was printed in newspapers around the world.

The stories from the small Connecticut town 35 years ago today carried news of the death of what many believed was one of Westport’s most famous residents Helen Keller.

The New York Times reported it this way: ֓WESTPORT, Conn., June 1—Helen Keller, who overcame blindness and deafness to become a symbol of the indomitable human spirit, died this afternoon in her home here. She was 87 years old.”

Trouble was Keller lived in Easton, not Westport, and had been a resident there for many years. Easton proudly celebrated the life of its legendary resident by naming a middle school after her.

Why biographies and news clippings still refer to her as a Westport resident is unclear. But it probably stemmed from the fact that Westport was better known than Easton and her home, known as Arcan Ridge, was not far from Westport.

Many Americans learned her story from William Gibson’s play “The Miracle Worker, first performed as a live television play in 1957.

In 1959 it was rewritten as a Broadway play and opened to rave reviews. It became a smash hit and ran for almost two years. In 1962 it was made into a film and actresses Patty Duke playing Keller and Anne Bancroft playing her teacher Anne Sullivan won Oscars for their performances.

Update (6/5/03): Lois Bloom, president of the Easton Historical Society, told WestportNow the discrepancy about where Keller’s home was located resulted from her living in Easton but having a Westport postal address.

“All her stationery listed a Westport post office box,” Bloom said. Other parts of tiny Easton at the time used Fairfield postal addresses, she said.

Bloom said she has answered a number of inquiries over the years about the confusion and noted that several biographies of Keller erroneously listed her home as being in Westport.

Update (6/18/03): Not all of Keller’s stationery, however, included a postal box. A Keller letter for sale on the Internet merely has as its heading “Arcan Ridge, Westport, Conn.”


Comment Policy

To whom it may concern,

I am trying to help my daughter out with a book report, that she is doing on Helen Keller. I do know that she lived on Westport Road in Easton, Ct. I do know her house in now privately owned and not available for tours.  But I would like to take a day and drive to Easton and see the outside of the house at least, and tour Easton, to get a sense of where Helen Keller spent most of her years.  Can you please help me by giving me the # of the address on her house called “Arcan Ridge”? 
I would greatly apprieciate it, and I thank you in advance for any assitance.

Posted by Cheryl on January 29, 2004 at 03:25 PM | #

I am a child doing a report on Helen Keller.I just want to say she is amazing .I love Helen Keller.

Posted by Ashton on February 25, 2005 at 12:37 PM | #

Why did Helen Keller die? I’m doing a report on her. Of old age? Cancer? Why?

Posted by A Secret on March 20, 2005 at 04:41 PM | #

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