Obituary; Patricia Neal

Article excerpt

DESPITE Oscar-winning success, actress Patricia Neal's life was marked by a succession of tragedies.

Promise on Broadway, in the mid-1940s, took her to Hollywood and into a succession of lacklustre films, as well as an unhappy love affair with actor Gary Cooper.

Her infant son suffered brain damage when his pushchair was struck by a New York taxi, she lost a daughter to measles and then - after she finally won critical acclaim for the 1963 film, Hud - she had three strokes.

With the help of her husband Roald Dahl, she recovered sufficiently to return to films, but then lost him to a woman who she considered a friend.

Patsy Louise Neal was born in a Kentucky mining camp, studying drama at Northwestern University.

After two years there, she went to New York, where she attracted the interest of playwright Eugene O'Neill and went on to win five major theatre awards.

Signing with Warner Brothers, Neal arrived in Hollywood, in December, 1948, to star in the film version of a play she had turned down in New York, John Loves Mary, alongside Ronald Reagan.

Her film career, though, failed to live up to her stage success and she embarked on a futile romance with married actor Gary Cooper. …