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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 10 February 1920Nevada, Iowa, USA
Date of Death 14 December 2010Brentwood, California, USA  (complications from a broken hip)
Birth NameNeva Louise Patterson
Height 5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Lean-framed, arch and edgy, somewhat hard-looking, dark-haired Neva Patterson, known by face perhaps as opposed to name, was a familiar presence in heavily-styled drama of the 1950s and 1960s radio, stage, film and TV. Christened Neva Louise Patterson in 1920 (some sources incorrectly state 1922) to a mailman father and seamstress mother, she was born and raised in Nevada, Iowa. She loved putting on plays at home (along with her brother, Harlan) and performed in high school plays. Her interest was further spurred on when she found work as an usher at Nevada's Circle Theatre.

Neva graduated from high school in 1937 and worked for a short time in Des Moines finding secretarial jobs to make do until she moved to New York the next year. She worked long and hard at such jobs as secretary, radio/hotel singer and bit part performer before finally making her Broadway bow in "The Druid Circle" in 1947. By this time she had married a professional dancer, but they quickly divorced in 1948. More plays came her way: "Ring 'Round the Moon" (1950), "Susan and God" (1951), "The Cocktail Party" (1951) and "The Seven-Year Itch" (1952). Television became a viable medium for her during the "Golden Age" of TV; she would appear in than 400 dramas during her career, including work from "The Colgate Theatre" (1950) through "In the Heat of the Night" (1988).

Neva appeared very sporadically in movies with support roles in such prominent fare as Taxi (1953), her debut; The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956); Desk Set (1957); An Affair to Remember (1957), as Cary Grant's socialite fiancée; Too Much, Too Soon (1958) as Diana Barrymore's mother, writer Blanche Oelrichs (aka Michael Strange); David and Lisa (1962); Dear Heart (1964); and Counterpoint (1967), to name a few. A versatile talent, her ladies could be brittle and overwrought or exceedingly strong-minded and business-oriented. More often than not, the had dominant, overbearing personalities.

Neva continued in this fashion with a flux of TV roles and graced such short-lived series as The Governor & J.J. (1969) as the secretary to governor Dan Dailey in 1969; Nichols (1971), wherein she played a powerful, corruptible matriarch opposite James Garner; and 1974's _"Doc Elliot" (1974)_, as a widow and frequent confidante to medic James Franciscus. None of these lasted more than a season. In 1980 the actress made a brief Broadway comeback as a replacement in "Romantic Comedy". She later had recurring roles in the TV movie V: The Final Battle (1984) and in the series Webster (1983), St. Elsewhere (1982) and Berrenger's (1985).

Married three times, she adopted two children with her third husband, writer James Lee, who died in 2002. Neva, who retired in the early 1990s, passed away at age 90 of complications following a pelvic fracture in December of 2010.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (3)

James Lee (15 September 1957 - 2 July 2002) (his death) (2 children)
Michael Ellis (22 March 1953 - 1956) (divorced)
Thomas Gallagher (? - 1948) (divorced)

Trivia (5)

Young sister (by three years) of Harlan Patterson, whom she remained close. He left Nevada, Iowa following high school graduation and wound up in New York City working for IBM. Following his retirement, he followed his sister to Southern California and for a time helped type up Neva's husband's teleplays and screenplays while she edited them.
Adoptive mother of Megan Lee.
Ill health forced her complete retirement in 1988. She spent her remaining decades in Southern California with family.
Attended Nevada High School and appeared in several of her high school plays.
Neva's second husband, Michael Ellis (1917-2008)(ne Mayer Ellis Abrahamson), was once a professional magician before becoming a Broadway producer. He also was part owner and managing director of Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania from 1954 to 1964. Their divorce was amicable and Neva occasionally performed there with third husband James Lee sometimes directing her.

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