Two-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner for her performance in Martin Ritt’s Hud, Patricia Neal has died at the age of 84. The actress had been suffering from lung cancer and she died at her home in Edgerton, Massachusetts on Sunday. Neal famously suffered a series of strokes in the late 1960s and had to re-learn how to walk and talk. There is a stroke and brain injury rehabilitation center in Knoxville, Tennessee that is named for her.
Throughout her career Patricia Neal appeared in over 40 films starting with her debut in 1949 for King Vidor’s The Fountainhead. Before she got to Hollywood she had already won a Tony Award for appearing in the Broadway play Another Part of the Forest in 1946. In 1967 she was offered the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, but turned it down because she was still recovering from her recent strokes. After her recovery was complete she returned to the screen for the 1968 film The Subject Was Roses for which she received her second Academy Award nomination. Her most recent appearance was a bit role in the 2009 independent film Flying By, which had been her first performance in 9 years.
Personally, I am only familiar with Neal for her performances in The Day the Earth Stood Still and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. She was excellent as the unexpected heroine in The Day the Earth Stood Still with her transition from skepticism to the realization that she was one of the only people who could help save the world. Her husky voice reminded me of Marlene Dietrich, but she still maintained a sort of innocence to her that allowed her to play a unique sort of love interest.
Do you have a favorite Patricia Neal moment?