Duke Says Broadway Producer Dumped Her Over Health Concern

Patty Duke is accusing a Broadway producer of discrimination for bumping the Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress from a lead role because of her heart condition.

The 60-year-old Duke is suing the Manhattan Ensemble Theater Co. for $2.5 million after it dropped her from the national tour of the critically acclaimed one-woman show "Golda's Balcony" in 2005.

According to her suit, the theater and its founder, David Fishelson, lowered the curtain on Duke's road show after a January 2005 meeting in which she disclosed that she failed to complete a TV project after heart-bypass surgery.

Duke, who lives in Idaho, claims the theater and Fishelson terminated her contract after "they, mistakenly, perceived her to be disabled and unable to perform," and despite "clear oral promises" she would have the role.

Fellow Emmy-winner Valerie Harper replaced Duke.

Duke, who loved the script and was studying her lines when she got the boot, asserts she was up to playing the role of the late Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.

Her suit, filed two weeks ago in Manhattan federal court, charges Fishelson and Manhattan Ensemble "damaged" her career and "unlawfully profited from her celebrity" by promoting her in ad campaigns for the play even after deciding to drop her.