Actress. She is remembered as the sultry-voiced beauty who was the recipient of the Academy Award for her role as an old housekeeper, Alma Brown, in the 1963 film "Hud". Off-screen, she is best remembered for her personal triumph and recovery over a series of strokes that nearly took her life in 1965. Born Patsy Louise Neal, her father was a coal company manager, her mother was a bookkeeper and her grandfather a physician. Her family relocated from Kentucky to Knoxville, Tennessee where she started acting in high school. After graduation, she studied Drama at Northwestern University and during this period, she was a model and won beauty contests. After acquiring experience in summer stock where she change her name to “Patricia”, she moved to New York for the Broadway production "Another Part of the Forest" from 1946 to 1947. She was the 1949 Junior Rose Bowl Queen. She launched her Hollywood career playing opposite Ronald Reagan in the two 1949 films, "John Loves Mary” followed by “The Hasty Heart”. Another 1949 film was "The Fountainhead" which found her sharing the screen with handsome and married Gary Cooper. Their on-screen chemistry led her to a May-December romance that lasted three years. After their relationship ended, she married Ronald Dahl in 1953; he is be best remembered as the British author of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" in 1964. The couple had five children then divorced in 1983. In 1951, she co-starred in the classic film “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, and one year later, she returned to the Broadway stage with her origination of the part of Martha Dobie in "The Children's Hour" from 1952 to 1953. She also portrayed Kate Keller in the production "The Miracle Worker" from 1959 to 1961. She received praises for her performance in the 1957 film " A Face in the Crowd" and had a featured role in Audrey Hepburn's 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany's". During this time, she appeared in guest roles on numerous TV programs. After filming the 1965 film "In Harm's Way" with John Wayne, she suffered from three ruptured cerebral aneurysms, had a seven-hour brain surgery, followed by a three-week comatose state, and six months later gave birth to her fifth child. This resulted in an altered nervous system with hemiplegia, loss of vision in one eye, and inability to speak. Through her own strength and courage along with the greatly-needed aide from her husband, she was able to make a recovery in three years enabling her to return to work. Her first effort after her health crisis was the 1968 film "The Subject Was Roses". She struggled through memory lapses during the filming, however in spite of this, her performance earned her an Academy Award nomination. In 1971 she originated the part of Olivia Walton in the TV-movie pilot titled "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" for the series "The Waltons" for which earned her a Golden Globe Award. She continued to make frequent films and television appearances until a year before her death; she last movie “Flying By” was released April 2009. In addition to her own health issues, she suffered the loss of her seven-year-old daughter, Olivia, to encephalitis as a complication of measles in 1962, and their only son Theo obtained a serious brain injury at four months old when his baby buggy was hit by a taxis in 1960. Neal penned her autobiography "As I Am" in 1988 and received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. She gave much time and energy into raising money for brain injured children and adults and establishing the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center in her childhood hometown of Knoxville. After becoming a Catholic for a few months, she died from lung cancer; her final resting place was Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis Cemetery.
Bio by: Linda Davis
1916–1990 (m. 1953)