RIP Patricia Neal

One of the great ones has passed. This really breaks my heart.

I share your grief. She was a favorite of mine from the days of The Day The Earth Stood Still and The Fountainhead up through Hud and A Face in the Crowd.

One of those rare women who really didn’t age.

I just saw this on CNN, what a marvelous talent she was. In Harm’s Way and Hud were my favorite performances but I’d watch her in anything. I’d no idea her personal life had been so difficult.

A brilliant stage and screen actress who fought the hard fight to recover from strokes at a very early age. Her performance in Hud was terrific: not only did she turn in an outstanding performance, she was able to shine above the likes of Newman (who was vigorously chewing the scenery), Brandon De Wilde, and Melvyn Douglas. The good ones are going fast.

Nervous breakdown in 1952 after filming 3 movies. Recovers and makes more classic films. Then wins an Academy Award for Hud in 1963.

Even three strokes while pregnant in 1965 couldn’t stop her. It’s amazing she continued working and thrived for another 45 years after those strokes.

She lead a remarkable life.

In recent years she was a major anti-abortion advocate who spoke often against Roe v. Wade. She had major guilt about an abortion she had by Gary Cooper in the 1950s before she married Roald Dahl.

She married Roald Dahl? Damn, she was one cool chick. In my opinion she was wrong about abortion. Still, damn!

This feels like when I recently read a Julia Childs biography. Julia Childs was the greatest biotch that ever fondled a chicken but she had a thing against fags (that’s what she called them), even though some of her best friends were gay. It took the scourge of AIDS to get her to see the light. Seems people have a hard time being perfect.

She had an extremely rough early 1960s to say the absolute least. In 1960 her 4 month old son Theo’s carriage was hit by a cab causing permanent brain damage. In 1962 her 7 year old daughter Olivia died of measles. Six months after her fourth child was born in 1964 she learned she was- Surprise! pregnant with a fifth, and it was while pregnant with this child she had her strokes (though the child was born healthy).

It’s amazing how well she rallied. She referred to Roald Dahl as a “slavedriving taskmaster” and “total bastard” in her physical therapy after the stroke, but admits that it was tough love and she wouldn’t have recovered as completely or as soon without him. Unfortunately in the early 1980s she learned he had been having an affair with her best friend for several years and they divorced after 30 years of marriage; she said lawyers took most of their assets in the international divorce proceedings until finally she and Dahl met and divvied up what was left in their own best interest.

I mainly remember her from Breakfast at Tiffany’s as George Peppard’s keeper, as Marie Charbonneau in The Bastard, from her guest spot on Little House on the Prairie, and from various TV movies (including the pilot to The Waltons) made after her strokes. I disagree with her abortion views also, but she was a great actress and had one helluva lot of comeback in her.

An endearing memory was seeing her on an interview show a few years ago when a picture was shown of her granddaughter (model/author Sophie) and her boyfriend (later husband) Jamie Cullum and how Neal burst out laughing at the height difference. She was embarassed but said something like “He’s a sweetheart to her” which I took to be a throwback to the “Bless his heart” training of her southern upbringing. (Picture for perspective.)

I remember her wonderful performance in A Face in the Crowd. She held the screen against Andy Griffith very very well.