Thursday, August 8, 2013

Remembering Patricia Neal January 20, 1926 - August 8, 2010

Although she suffered many tragedies during her life, Patricia Neal was truly a bright spot on stage and screen.  She appeared in many great films during the 50's thru the 70's including the Academy Award for Best Actress as Alma Brown in  the film "Hud" that also featured Paul Newman.  She was recognized for her "husky" voice.

Academy Award performance
Patsy Louise Neal was born in Packard, Kentucky  and grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee.  After graduating from Knoxville High School, she studied drama at Northwestern University and gives credit to her acting professor Alvina Krause who guided her in her successful career.  While at Northwestern, she was popular and was crowned Queen in the campus beauty pageant.

Following her studies at Northwestern, she got her first job in New York as an understudy for the production of "The Voice of the Turtle." Following that she appeared in "Another Part of the Forest" where she received a Tony Award for her performance.

Over the years, Neal performed roles with many of the leading actors in Hollywood.  Her first film was with Ronald Reagan in "John Loves Mary"  She soon had a relationship with Gary Cooper while filming "The Fountainhead"  Other roles include "The Breaking Point" with John Garfield, "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and "Operation Pacific with John Wayne.  She also played in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" "A Face In The Crowd" and the play "The Miracle Worker" She starred in the television movie as Olivia Walton in "The Homecoming: A Christmas Story" Over the years, Neal received two lifetime achievement awards.

Her personal life included a great deal of heartache and tragedy.  She suffered three cerebral aneurysms herself along with the loss of a child and serious illness of another.  She also suffered from domestic abuse and an abortion.

Her life was portrayed in a television movie "The Patricia Neal Story" that was played by actress Glenda Jackson.  Her autobiography was published in 1988 named "As I Am"

Patricia was honored with a rehabilitation wing in the Fort Sanders Medical Center in Knoxville that was named for her that specializes in treating stroke, brain injury and spinal cord patients.

Casket covered with sunflowers
Patricia Neal died in her home on August 8, 2010 from lung cancer at the age of 84.  She had converted to catholicism four months prior to her death.

Her funeral program
Her life was celebrated at her funeral service in the Federated Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts. Her casket was covered with a blanket of yellow sunflowers  Actor Eli Wallach at the age of 94 kept those in attendance with smiles and laughter as he told tales of Patricia's exploits in the world of theater and film.    Her physician, Dr. Paul Farmer said of her "Every man is in love with two women-his wife and Patricia Neal.  He went on to say that her work in the rehabilitation center was endless "She understood what it was to take the fall from the height of one's power to the depth of helplessness."  The service ended with the Irish Blessing followed by Carly Simon singing "Let the River Run" as well as a standing ovation.

She was laid to rest in the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut.

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