Monday, August 9, 2010

Patricia Neal: Great Career, Tragic Life
(January 20, 1926 – August 8, 2010)

Patricia Neal, a Kentucky coal miner's daughter, was not only a first-rate actress who's been called the American Jeanne Moreau—she also lived a life so dramatic in its own right that it was the subject of a 1981 TV movie, The Patricia Neal Story

During the filming of the screen adaptation of Ayn Rand's controversial classic, The Fountainhead, the 21-year-old actress began an affair with Gary Cooper, then 46. It ended after Cooper's wife sent Neal a telegram requesting its termination, and also after Cooper's daughter spat at Neal in public. 

In 1953, Neal married British writer Roald Dahl, whom she'd met two years earlier at a dinner party thrown by Lillian Hellman. According to Wikipedia
In the early 1960s the couple suffered through grievous injury to one child and the death of another. On December 5, 1960, their son Theo, four months old, suffered brain damage when his baby carriage was struck by a taxicab in New York City. On November 17, 1962, their daughter, Olivia, died at age 7 from measles encephalitis.    
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 film, Neal commands your total attention in every scene she's in, whether she's sharing the screen with Paul Newman (Hud, for which she won the Oscar), Gary Cooper, or even an alien robot (The Day the Earth Stood Still).

Recommended viewing:

  • 1949 - The Fountainhead 
  • 1951 - The Day the Earth Stood Still 
  • 1957 - A Face in the Crowd 
  • 1957 - Breakfast at Tiffany's 
  • 1963 - Hud 
  • 2003 - Broadway: The Golden Age

Neal's obituary in The New York Times

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