The Tragedies and Triumphs of Actress Patricia Neal
By PopEater Staff Posted Aug 9th 2010 06:00PM
Patricia Neal experienced as many tragedies off screen as as she did triumphs on screen.
The Oscar-winning actress, who succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 84 this past Sunday, had a life marked with tragic circumstances immersed with her Hollywood success.
While filming 'The Fountainhead,' the actress began an affair with the married Gary Cooper. Neal became pregnant but Cooper would not leave his wife and daughter for the young starlet, and encouraged her to have an abortion.
Furthermore, the movie itself was a bomb. "You knew, from the very first reel, it was destined to be a monumental bomb ... My status changed immediately. That was the end of my career as a second Garbo," Neal said after watching, The New York Times reports.
It was around this time that she left Hollywood for New York, due to the stress of the end of her romance with Cooper.
She then met and married acclaimed author Roald Dahl in 1953, despite the fact that she did not love him, according to her autobiography.
In 1960, Neal's 4-month-old son with Dahl, named Theo, was hit by a taxi, leaving him brain-damaged. Two years later, their oldest daughter Olivia died of measles at the age of 7.
But her career continued to peak. She appeared in 1961's classic 'Breakfast at Tiffany's,' and at the 1964 Academy Awards, Neal earned the trophy for best actress in a leading role for 'Hud.'
Tragedy was never far away, though. The honored actress became pregnant with her youngest child Lucy in 1965, but suffered a series of strokes that left her in a coma for three weeks. Fortunately, she gave birth without complications, but her road to recovery was not easy.
According to the New York Times, surgeons worked on Neal for 14 hours after she collapsed in her Beverly Hills home. Two weeks later, her doctor told Dahl his wife would live. "I'm not sure whether or not I've done her a favor," the surgeon told him at the time.
But Dahl became merciless with her recovery, putting her into physical and speech therapy and continued to be demanding of her on his own. Gradually, she regained her ability to walk and talk.
Then he announced, in 1967, that she would speak at a charity dinner for brain-damaged children, and later Neal recollected in her tome: "I knew at that moment that Roald the slave driver, Roald the bastard, with his relentless scourge, Roald the Rotten, as I had called him more than once, had thrown me back into the deep water. Where I belonged."
Shortly thereafter, she was offered the now-iconic role of Mrs. Robinson in 'The Graduate,' but turned it down, believing it to be too soon after her strokes.
Nevertheless, she would work on the big screen again. 'The Subject Was Roses' became her next feature film, which earned her a second Oscar nomination in 1969.
Of course, her personal life struck again. Her 30-year marriage to Dahl ended in 1983, when she found out about her husbands infidelities with her close friend, Felicity Crosland.
After her divorce, Patricia continued to appear on the big and small screens in lesser roles and worked to open and fund raise for the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center which aids brain-injured adults and children.
"I can't see from one eye. I've been paralyzed. I've fallen down and broken a hip. Stubbornness gets you through the bad times. You don't give in," she said in 1988.
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