On Sunday, August 8th classic Hollywood lost another star. Oscar-winning actress Patricia Neal died at the age of 84 from lung cancer.
Patricia Neal was a star like no other star. She was the first sexy actress that could personified the image without baring skin. She always played a woman that could take care of herself and she was one of the few that could go toe to toe with John Wayne.
1962, Patricia starred in “Hud,” with blue-eyed Paul Newman. This role won Patricia an Academy Award for Best Actress. Then suddenly at the age of 39 and in the prime of her career, Patricia suffered a major stroke. To make matters even worst, she was pregnant with her fifth child at the time. Long before people were encouraged to rehabilitation, Patricia struggled to regain movement and speech to continue her career. Within three years of her stroke she starred in the film “The Subject was Roses,” in 1965 and Patricia received a second Academy award nomination.
Patricia’s life and struggle during her rehabilitation was later chronicled in an 1981 TV movie “The Patricia Neal Story,” starring Glenda Jackson. Her life became an inspiration for other stoke victims.
Patricia Neal found more success in television. She was the first to play mama Walton in “The Waltons” The Homecoming: A Christmas Story. This TV movie served as the pilot to the very popular TV series that followed with Michael Learned taking over the part. Patricia’s role was recognized with what became the first of three Emmy Nominations. Patricia continued to work in film and television throughout her remaining years.
There was no one like her before and there will never be an actress like her again. She had a voice that held your attention and a glance that made you a little nervous. But most assuredly, she was an original and more than anything remarkable. Patricia had a role in “Little House and the Prairie,” entitled “Remember Me” in which her character leaves a letter after her death that read:
“Remember me with smiles and laughter,
For that’s how I’ll remember you.
If you can only remember me with tears,
then don’t remember me at all.”
So, let’s remember this fine actress and courageous woman with smiles and laughter.