Oscar-Winner Patricia Neal Dies at 84 After a Tragic Life

by Anne Thompson
August 9, 2010 4:56 AM
6 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
Patricia Neal has died at her home on Martha's Vineyard, of lung cancer. She was 84. Neal started out strong as a Hollywood leading lady, a beautiful and powerful character actress in such films as The Fountainhead, co-starring her lover Gary Cooper, The Day the Earth Stood Still, A Face in the Crowd and Hud, for which she won the best actress Oscar in 1964.

Married to author Roald Dahl, she gave birth to five children. One was brain-damaged in a 1960 taxi accident when he was a baby, another succumbed to measles in 1962. Tessa Dahl and her daughter Sophie both became screenwriters. Neal went on to suffer three strokes in 1964 and had to relearn, badgered by her husband, how to walk and talk. She resumed her award-winning career in films and television with The Subject was Roses and The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. Dahl and Neal broke up in 1983.

A.P. quotes her as follows from her 1988 autobiography, As I Am: "Frequently my life has been likened to a Greek tragedy, and the actress in me cannot deny that comparison."

UPDATE: Michael Phillips does a nice job on what made the tall slim beauty with a husky voice a memorable actress.

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6 Comments

  • Drew | August 9, 2010 12:34 PMReply

    Hunter Todd -- Not really the best circumstances in which to plug your little festival, are they? Stay classy, bud.

    Brian -- No better time than now to watch "Hud." Nearly a perfect film.

  • dyulyur | August 9, 2010 8:23 AMReply

    It is terrible tragedy that Patricia Neal has passed away. You can help remember her by contributing to her memorial website at http://patricianeal.people2remember.com/

  • dyulyur | August 9, 2010 8:20 AMReply

    It is terrible tragedy that Patricia Neal has passed away. You can help remember her by contributing to her memorial website at http://patricianeal.people2remember.com/

  • dyulyur | August 9, 2010 8:12 AMReply

    It is terrible tragedy that Patricia Neal has passed away. You can help remember her by contributing to her memorial website at http://patricianeal.people2remember.com/

  • Hunter Todd | August 9, 2010 5:02 AMReply

    Patricia Neal was one of the last great Hollywood Movie Stars and Actresses. She remained a brilliant, courageous and charming individual until the very end. WorldFest honored her with the Remi Lifetime Achievement Statuette Award in 2008 and while she was here we were all tremendously impressed with her verve, style and caustic wit. Ms. Neal enjoyed a glass of good Red Wine and we enjoyed many together while she was in Houston. A warm goodbye to her, and we have all of her wonderful movies to keep her in our thoughts. More on worldfest at worldfest.org - Our 44th comes up April 2011 and we will honor another Hollywood great like Patricia Neal ...

  • Brian | August 9, 2010 2:22 AMReply

    The New York Times obit doesn't even mention THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL.

    She was very good as John Wayne's love interest in OPERATION PACIFIC (1951). I liked her in THE FOUNTAINHEAD, too, even if poor Coop is woefully miscast (as he was quick to acknowleged in interviews).

    I can't believe I've still never seen HUD. I have it on tape (from a TCM cablecast), so I guess the time is now.

    A great actress and a great lady.

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