Neal, born Patsy Louise Neal, started her career on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Play for Lillian Hellman's 'Another Part of the Forest' (1946). She was, in fact, one of the very first Tony Award winners ever, as the 1947 ceremony was the first in the award's history; in recent years until her death, Neal was the only surviving winner from that inaugural ceremony. Patricia Neal, who won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in 1963's 'Hud,' died on Sunday morning at her home in Edgartown, Massachusetts, on Martha's Vineyard. The actress, who had lung cancer, was 84 years old.
Neal, born Patsy Louise Neal, started her career on Broadway, receiving a Tony Award as Best Featured Actress in a Play for Lillian Hellman's 'Another Part of the Forest' (1946). She was, in fact, one of the very first Tony Award winners ever, as the 1947 ceremony was the first in the award's history. In recent years until her death, Neal was the only surviving winner from that inaugural ceremony.
She made her film debut opposite Ronald Reagan in the 1949 drama 'John Loves Mary' and quickly graduated to higher-profile movies, snagging the coveted role of Dominique in the 1949 adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel 'The Fountainhead.' The 23-year-old starlet famously had an affair with her married co-star Gary Cooper, who was then 48 years old. She became pregnant with Cooper's child, but the actor persuaded her to have an abortion; she would later write in her 1988 autobiography 'As I Am,' "If I had only one thing to do over in my life, I would have that baby." The affair lasted for three years.
Neal may be known to sci-fi aficionados as Helen Benson in the 1951 classic 'The Day the Earth Stood Still,' the widow tasked by Klaatu with uttering the famous alien phrase ""Klaatu barada nikto."
For the most part, however, the early '50s saw Neal appearing in a number of quickly forgotten movies, and she regained her momentum only after returning to Broadway to star in the revival of Lillian Hellman's 'The Children's Hour.' Her next great Hollywood success came in Elia Kazan's 'A Face in the Crowd,' as a small-town radio producer who "discovers" a rootless guitarist (Andy Griffith).
The Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center, in her hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, was founded in 1978 help people recover from strokes, and Neal was a major supporter in the field of rehabilitation, visiting the center several times a year.
Neal is survived by daughters Chantal Tessa Sophia Dahl, a writer (and mother of the model and actress Sophie Dahl); Ophelia Dahl, a health care advocate; Lucy Neal, a screenwriter; and son Theo Dahl.