Patricia Neal, the Oscar- and Tony Award-winning actress, was born Patricia Louise Neal in Packard, Kentucky. Her father managed a coal mine and her mother was the daughter of the town doctor. She grew up in Knoxville, where she attended high school.
She was first bit by the acting bug at the age of 10, after attending an evening of monologues at a Methodist church. She subsequently wrote a letter to Santa Claus, telling him, "What I want for Christmas is to study dramatics". She won the Tennessee State Award for dramatic reading while she was in high school.
She apprenticed at the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia when she was 16-years-old, between her junior and senior years in high school. After studying drama for two years at Northwestern University, she headed to New York City and landed the job as an understudy in The Voice of the Turtle (1947). It was the producer of the play that had her change her name from Patsy to Patricia.
After replacing Vivian Vance in the touring company of "Turtle", she won a role in a play that closed in Boston and then appeared in summer stock. She won the role of the teenage "Regina" in Lillian Hellman's play, Another Part of the Forest (1948), for which she won a Tony Award in 1947. Subsequently, she signed a seven-year contract with Warner Bros.
In the first part of her film career, her most impressive roles were in The Fountainhead (1949), opposite Gary Cooper, with whom she had three-year-long love affair, and in director Robert Wise's sci-fi classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), which she made at 20th Century-Fox. Warners hadn't been thrilled with her and let her go before her contract was up, so she signed with Fox. Her film career stagnating, she returned to Broadway and achieved the success that eluded her in films, appearing in the revival of Hellman's play, The Children's Hour (1961), in 1952. She met and married the writer, Roald Dahl, in 1953, and they would have five children in 30 years of marriage.
In 1957, she had one of her finest roles in Elia Kazan's parable about the threat of mass-media demagoguery and home-grown fascism in A Face in the Crowd (1957). Before she had appeared in the movie, Neal had taken over the role of "Maggie" in Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), the Broadway smash that had been directed by Kazan. Returning to the stage, she appeared in the London production of Williams' Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) and replaced Anne Bancroft in the Broadway production of The Miracle Worker (1962).
After appearing in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), she had what was arguably her finest role, as Alma the housekeeper, in Hud (1963) opposite Paul Newman. The film was a hit and Neal won the Best Actress Oscar. In 1965, she suffered a series of strokes that nearly killed her. She was filming John Ford's film, 7 Women (1966), at the time, and had to be replaced by Anne Bancroft (who would later take a role she turned down, "Mrs. Robinson" in The Graduate (1967)). Neal was pregnant at the time. She underwent a seven-hour operation on her brain and survived, later delivering her fifth child. She underwent rehabilitation supervised by her husband.
She had turned down The Graduate (1967) as she had not recovered fully from her stroke. When she returned to the screen, in 1968 in The Subject Was Roses (1968), she suffered from memory problems. According to her director, Ulu Grosbard, "The memory element was the uncertain one. But when we started to shoot, she hit her top level. She really rises to the challenge. She has great range, even more now than before".
She received an Oscar nomination for her work. Subsequently, new acting roles equal to her talent were sparse. She did receive three Emmy nominations, the first for originating the role of "Olivia Walton" in the 1971 TV movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971) (TV), that gave birth to the TV show "The Waltons" (1971).
Patricia Neal died on August 9, 2010 in Edgarton, Massachusetts from lung cancer. She was 84 years old.
|Roald Dahl||(2 July 1953 - 17 November 1983) (divorced) 5 children|
Received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award in 1986.
She was offered the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (1967) but she was nervous about doing such a demanding role so soon after her stroke.
Roald was credited with helping her rehabilitate after her strokes. He designed her recovery routines.
Grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Her own stroke recovery experiences led to her becoming a champion in the rehabilitation field. Her commitment to the rehabilitation center at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center (in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee) led the Center to dedicate it in 1978 as The Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center.
Enrolled in speech and drama at Northwestern University.
"Variety", the entertainment newspaper, mistakenly reported in their February 22, 1965 headline that Patricia Neal had died from her multiple strokes five days earlier. In truth, she remained in a coma for 21 days. Pregnant at the time, her daughter, Lucy Dahl, was born healthy.
After moving to New York, she earned her first job as a Broadway understudy after only two-and-a-half months of pounding the pavement in the production of "The Voice of the Turtle."
Has a summer home in Martha's Vineyard.
Daughter, Olivia Twenty Dahl (born April 20, 1955 - d. November 17, 1962), died suddenly of complications from measles at the age of seven.
Member of Pi Beta Phi sorority
In 1947, the first time that Broadway's Tony Awards were presented, she won the Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) Award for "Another Part of the Forest."
Began a relationship with Gary Cooper on the set of The Fountainhead (1949). He was forty-seven, she was twenty-two. In 1951, Cooper separated from his wife with the intention of marrying Neal; however, he never filed for divorce, and in 1954, they reconciled. Meanwhile, the affair with Neal had fizzled out, and she married Roald Dahl.
On March 4, 2007, she received one of the two Lifetime Achievement Awards presented annually by the SunDeis Film Festival at Brandeis University, following a screening of her classic film A Face in the Crowd (1957) (Roy Scheider was the other honoree).
In Italy, most of her films were dubbed by Clelia Bernacchi. She was occasionally dubbed by Franca Dominici -in The Fountainhead (1949); Giovanna Scotto -in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951); Tina Lattanzi -in Diplomatic Courier (1952); as well as Anna Miserocchi.
Has performed at the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia.
She has a grandchild from daughter, Ophelia Dahl, and Ophelia's partner, Lisa Frantzis.
Grandchildren: Sophie Dahl (born on September 15, 1977), Clover Martha Patricia Kelly (born on September 21, 1984), Luke Kelly (aka "Luke James Roald Kelly") (born on July 17, 1986), Ned Dahl Donovan (born on January 7, 1994) from daughter Tessa Dahl; Phoebe Patricia Rose Faircloth (born on November 4, 1988), Chloe Michaela Dahl (born on September 12, 1990) from daughter Lucy Dahl; Alexa Isabella Dahl (born on June 26, 2005) from son Theo Dahl.
Performed with the Tennessee Valley Players before studying drama at Northwestern University.
Won the Tony, Donaldson, Theatre World and New York Dramatic Critics awards for her 1946 Broadway performance in Lillian Hellman's "Another Part of the Forest". It was Hellman who later introduced Patricia to future husband Roald Dahl.
Made an appearance at the 2008 Nashville Film Festival in which she was given the festival's inaugural Life-time Achievement Award.
Unhappy with her roles in Hollywood, she was suspended by Warner Bros. for refusing to co-star with Randolph Scott in a western. That and her torrid but futile affair with married actor Gary Cooper, which led to an abortion and nervous collapse, quickened her decision to leave Hollywood and return to New York City where she refocused on theater.
Her father, William Burdette Neal, was a transportation manager for a coal company; her mother, Eura Mildred Petrey, was a bookkeeper.
Following her two-year illness and rehabilitation, the Oscar-winning Patricia made her first public appearance in March of 1967, in which she spoke to 2,000 people in New York City at a benefit for the New York Association for Brain Injured Children. She also showed up at the 1967 Academy Awards ceremony to present the award for "Best Foreign Film" and received a standing ovation.
On February 5, 1965, while on location filming 7 Women (1966), a pregnant Patricia was bathing daughter Tessa Dahl at a rented home when she suffered a massive, paralyzing stroke, followed by two more. Baby Lucy Dahl was later born healthy but in its aftermath, the actress suffered from partial paralysis, partial blindness, she lost her memory and was unable to speak. Husband Roald Dahl had her undergo extensive therapy back in England, including swimming, walking, memory games and crossword puzzles.
Her 5-month-old baby son Theo Dahl suffered severe neurological damage on December 5, 1960, when his carriage (which was being pushed by a nurse) was accidentally crushed between a taxi and a bus in New York City. He survived following several operations.
After he played such a strong and devoted role in her physical and mental recovery from her paralytic illness, Patricia divorced her husband, writer Roald Dahl, after discovering his romantic affair with her close friend, Felicity ("Liccy") d'Abreu Crossland (aka Liccy Dahl). The couple married shortly after Roald and Patricia's divorce became final.
Returned to work 6 months after giving birth to her daughter Olivia to begin performing in "A Roomful of Roses" on Broadway.
Was in a story segment of The Third Secret (1964) which was cut from the film.
Was 5 months pregnant with her son Theo Dahl when she completed her run of the Broadway play "The Miracle Worker".
Was supposed to continue playing the female lead role as Olivia Walton in "The Waltons" (1971) after the pilot episode, but her health problems prevented this.
Her upset at being knocked unconscious in order to give birth to her 1st child, Olivia, led her to vow never to give birth in New York City again.
"In 1949, we stayed with one of my friends who had a book in which people were asked to write down their secret ambitions. Ronald Reagan wrote he'd like to be president. All those years ago!".
I think I was born stubborn, that's all.
John Wayne had enormous appeal for the public, but I did not find him appealing in the least. I think my charms were lost on him too. He was going through marital problems, which kept him in a bad humor all the time. Duke was at odds with the director and could be a bully, particularly with a gay publicity man, who seemed to draw his wrath at every turn. - On Operation Pacific (1951)
[on Gary Cooper] He was the most gorgeously attractive man. Bright, too, though some people didn't think so.
[when she heard Paul Newman died] Somebody came in and told me that Paul had died, and I was heartbroken, because he was a beautiful man. I knew that he was a little ill, and I knew that he was probably going to die, but you know it's just so heartbreaking when one hears it.
Frequently my life has been likened to a Greek tragedy, and the actress in me cannot deny that comparison.
I've had a lovely time. - PN's last words while on her deathbed
Gort, Klaatu barata nikto. - PN's immortal, earth-saving line uttered to the alien robot Gort in the classic sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
I loved Gary Cooper, for years and years and years. And I still love him. Of course, Becky (Cooper's wife, Veronica Balfe, (Sandra Shaw) was not very happy with me. And I don't blame her. Nor was her little daughter, Maria Cooper, who I guess was about 11 when we started...And I was very sorry. But Gary...I just loved Gary very much. - PN, in a 2008 interview.
(March 2009) Appeared on WABC-TV Consumer Line in New York City to deal with a botched contracting job in her bathroom.
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