Patricia Neal: Wikis


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Patricia Neal

at the Tribeca Film Festival, 2007
Born Patsy Louise Neal
January 20, 1926 (1926-01-20) (age 83)
Packard, Whitley County, Kentucky, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1949–present
Spouse(s) Roald Dahl (1953–1983)

Patricia Neal (born January 20, 1926) is an American actress of stage and screen. She is perhaps best-known for her Academy Award-winning role in the 1963 drama Hud.


Early life

Neal was born Patsy Louise Neal, in Packard, Whitley County, Kentucky. She grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee and studied drama at Northwestern University.


In The Fountainhead (1949)

After moving to New York, she accepted her first job as understudy in the Broadway production of The Voice of the Turtle. Next she appeared in Another Part of the Forest (1946), winning a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Play.

In 1949, Neal made her film debut in John Loves Mary. Her appearance the same year in The Fountainhead coincided with her on-going affair with her married co-star, Gary Cooper. Later she co-starred with Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

By 1952, Neal had starred in The Breaking Point, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Operation Pacific (the last with John Wayne). She suffered a nervous breakdown around that time, following the end of her relationship with Cooper, and left Hollywood for New York, where she returned to Broadway in a revival of The Children's Hour, in 1952. (She also acted in A Roomful of Roses in 1955, and as the mother in The Miracle Worker in 1959.)

Patricia Neal in 1954, photo by Carl Van Vechten

In films, she starred in A Face in the Crowd (1957) and co-starred in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961).

In 1963, Neal won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in Hud, co-starring Paul Newman. When the film was initially released it was predicted she would be a nominee in the supporting actress category but she began collecting awards and they were always for Best Leading Actress. She not only received the Academy Award but also picked up awards from the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review. She also received a BAFTA award from the British Academy. Two years later, in 1965, she was reunited with John Wayne in Otto Preminger's In Harm's Way winning her second BAFTA Award.

Neal was offered the role of "Mrs. Robinson" in The Graduate (1967), but turned it down, feeling it had come too soon after her strokes. She returned to the big screen in The Subject Was Roses (1968), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

She later starred as Olivia Walton in the television movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971), which was the pilot episode for The Waltons. Although she won a Golden Globe for her performance, she was not invited to reprise the role in the television series; the part went to Michael Learned. Neal played a dying widowed mother trying to find a home for her three children in a moving 1975 episode of NBC's Little House on the Prairie.

In 1978, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville dedicated the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center in her honor. The center serves as part of Neal's paralysis victim advocacy. She has appeared in Center advertisements throughout 2006.

In 1981, Glenda Jackson played her in a television movie, The Patricia Neal Story which co-starred Dirk Bogarde as Neal's husband Roald Dahl.

In 1988 Neal published an autobiography, As I Am.

Patricia Neal is a long-term actress with Philip Langner's Theatre at Sea/ Sail With the Stars productions with the Theatre Guild.

In 2007, Neal worked on Silvana Vienne's innovative critically-acclaimed art movie Beyond Baklava: The Fairy Tale Story of Sylvia's Baklava, appearing as herself in the portions of the documentary talking about alternative ways to end violence in the world. Also in 2007, Neal received one of two annually-presented Lifetime Achievement Awards at the SunDeis Film Festival in Waltham, Massachusetts. (Academy Award nominee Roy Scheider was the recipient of the other.)


She often appears on the Tony Awards telecast, perhaps because she is the only surviving winner from the first ceremony. Her original Tony was lost so she was given a replacement by Bill Irwin when they presented the Best Actress Award to Cynthia Nixon in 2006.

In April 2009, Neal received a lifetime achievement award from WorldFest Houston on the occasion of the debut of her film, Flying By.

Personal life

During the filming of The Fountainhead (1949), Neal had an affair with her married co-star, Gary Cooper, whom she had met in 1947 when she was 21 and he was 46. By 1950, Cooper's wife, Veronica, had found out about the relationship and sent Neal a telegram demanding they end it. Neal became pregnant by Cooper, but he persuaded her to have an abortion.[1]

The affair ended, but not before Cooper's daughter, Maria (now Maria Cooper Janis, born 1937), spat at Neal in public.[2] Years after Cooper's death, Maria and her mother Veronica reconciled with Neal.

Neal met British writer Roald Dahl at a dinner party hosted by Lillian Hellman in 1951. They married on July 2, 1953, at Trinity Church in New York. In 1961 and 1962 she suffered the death of one child and a grievous injury to another. Her daughter, Olivia, died from measles encephalitis and her son Theo's carriage was hit by a taxi when he was just four months old. The marriage produced five children: Olivia Twenty (April 20, 1955 – November 17 1962); Chantal Tessa Sophia; Theo Matthew (b. 1960); Ophelia Magdalena; and Lucy Neal (b. 1965).

While pregnant in 1965, Neal suffered three burst cerebral aneurysms, and was in a coma for three weeks. Dahl directed her rehabilitation and she subsequently relearned to walk and talk ("I think I'm just stubborn, that's all"). On August 4, 1965, she gave birth to a healthy daughter, Lucy.

Neal and Dahl's 30-year marriage ended in divorce in 1983 after Dahl's affair with Neal's friend, Felicity Crosland.[3]

Neal lives in New York City, and owns a house on Martha's Vineyard.




Year Film Role Notes
1949 John Loves Mary Mary McKinley
The Fountainhead Dominique Francon
It's a Great Feeling Herself cameo
The Hasty Heart Sister Parker
1950 Bright Leaf Margaret Jane Singleton
The Breaking Point Leona Charles
Three Secrets Phyllis Horn
1951 Operation Pacific Lt. (j.g.) Mary Stuart
Raton Pass Ann Challon
The Day the Earth Stood Still Helen Benson
Week-End with Father Jean Bowen
1952 Diplomatic Courier Joan Ross
Washington Story Alice Kingsley
Something for the Birds Anne Richards
1954 Your Woman Contessa Germana de Torri
Stranger from Venus Susan North
1957 A Face in the Crowd Marcia Jeffries
1961 Breakfast at Tiffany's 2-E (Mrs. Failenson)
1963 Hud Alma Brown Academy Award for Best Actress
National Board of Review Award
New York Film Critics
Nominated - Golden Globe
1964 Psyche '59 Alison Crawford
1965 In Harm's Way Lt. Maggie Haynes BAFTA Award
1968 Pat Neal Is Back Herself short subject
The Subject Was Roses Nettie Cleary Nominated - Academy Award for Best Actress
1971 The Night Digger Maura Prince
1973 Baxter! Dr. Roberta Clemm
Happy Mother's Day, Love George Cara
1974 "Kung-Fu; Blood of the Dragon" Sarah TV 2-part episode
1975 B Must Die Julia
1977 Widow's Nest Lupe
1979 The Passage Mrs. Bergson
1979 All Quiet on the Western Front Paul's Mother
1981 Ghost Story Stella Hawthorne
1989 An Unremarkable Life Frances McEllany
1991 Preminger: Anatomy of a Filmmaker Herself documentary
1993 "Heidi" Grandmother
1999 Cookie's Fortune Jewel Mae 'Cookie' Orcutt
From Russia to Hollywood: The 100-Year Odyssey of Chekhov and Shdanoff Herself documentary
2000 For the Love of May Grammy May short subject
2003 Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There Herself documentary
Bright Leaves Herself documentary
2007 The Fairy Tale Story of Sylvia's Baklava Herself documentary feature film
2008 Shattered Glory Mrs. Wyatt pre-production
2009 Flying By Margie filming


  • Strindberg on Love (1960)
  • Special for Women: Mother and Daughter (1961)
  • The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971)
  • Things in Their Season (1974)
  • Eric (1975)
  • Tail Gunner Joe (1977)
  • A Love Affair: The Eleanor and Lou Gehrig Story (1978)
  • The Bastard (1978) (miniseries)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (1979)
  • The Patricia Neal Story (1981) (cameo)
  • Love Leads the Way: A True Story (1984)
  • Glitter (1984) (pilot for series)
  • Shattered Vows (1984)
  • Caroline? (1990)
  • A Mother's Right: The Elizabeth Morgan Story (1992)
  • Heidi (1993)



  1. ^ Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life
  2. ^ Shearer, Stephen Michael. Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life, Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, 2006, p. 88
  3. ^ "Celebrity Corner". Knight-Ridder. 1983-10-24.,1914629&dq=felicity-crosland. Retrieved 2009-04-12.  


  • Encyclopedia of Kentucky. New York, New York: Somerset Publishers. 1987. pp. 182–183. ISBN 0403099811.  
  • Neal, Patricial (1988). As I Am: An Autobiography New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Shearer, Stephen Michael (2006). Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813123917.  

External links


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