Monday, August 09, 2010

Oscar-winning Actress Patricia Neal Dead At 84

Hollywood has lost one of its greatest actresses. I've been a huge fan of Patricia Neal for many years - she was quite simply - one of the best! When her autobiography, As I Am, came out in the 1980's I devoured it in a single reading - what a life she had! Her rocky marriage to author Roald Dahl (who wrote many children books: James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches) was well chronicled in the book and forever changed my opinion of him (he seemed like such an asshole toward her) and his writing (those kids books kinda creeped me out after learning more about him). Neal's recovery from her stroke was a miracle. She will be missed.

AP reports:
Patricia Neal, the willowy, husky-voiced actress who won an Academy Award for 1963's Hud and then survived several strokes to continue acting, died on Sunday. She was 84. Neal had lung cancer and died surrounded by her family at her home in Edgartown, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard.

"She faced her final illness as she had all of the many trials she endured: with indomitable grace, good humor and a great deal of her self-described stubbornness," her family said in a statement.

Neal was already an award-winning Broadway actress when she won her Oscar for her role as a housekeeper to the Texas father (Melvyn Douglas) battling his selfish, amoral son (Paul Newman) in Hud.

Less than two years later, she suffered a series of strokes in 1965 at age 39. Her struggle to once again walk and talk is regarded as epic in the annals of stroke rehabilitation. The Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center that helps people recover from strokes and spinal cord and brain injuries is named for her in Knoxville, where she grew up.

She made a grand return to the screen after her strokes in 1968, winning an Oscar nomination for her performance in "The Subject Was Roses." In 1971, she played Olivia Walton in "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story," a made-for-TV film that served as the pilot for the CBS series "The Waltons." It brought her the first of her three Emmy nominations.

In her 1988 autobiography, "As I Am," she wrote, "Frequently my life has been likened to a Greek tragedy, and the actress in me cannot deny that comparison." Neal projected force that almost crackled on the screen. Her forte was drama, but she had a light touch that enabled her to do comedy, too. READ MORE