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Oscar-winner actress Patricia Neal dies at age 84
KNOXVILLE, TENN. (AP) - Patricia Neal, the willowy, husky-voiced actress who won an Academy Award for 1963’s “Hud” and then survived several strokes to continue acting, died on Sunday. She was 84.
Less than two years later, she suffered a series of strokes in 1965 at age 39. Her struggle to regain walking and talking is regarded as epic in the annals of stroke rehabilitation. She returned to the screen to earn another Oscar nomination and three Emmy nominations.
The Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center that concentrates on helping people recover from strokes and spinal cord and brain injuries is named for her in Knoxville, where she grew up.
Whenever she was in town, a bunch of her friends would always get together and have dinner, Albers said. Her family let him know of her death. She had wanted to be in town next week for a golf tournament that benefits the center, he said.
“She was so courageous,” he said of her battling back from her illnesses and losing her 7-year-old daughter to measles in 1962. “She always fought back. She was very much an inspiration.”
In her 1988 autobiography, “As I Am,” she wrote, “Frequently my life has been likened to a Greek tragedy, and the actress in me cannot deny that comparison.”
Neal projected force that almost crackled on the screen. Her forte was drama, but she had a light touch that enabled her to do comedy, too.
She had the female leads in the 1949 film version of Ayn Rand’s novel “The Fountainhead,” the classic 1951 science fiction film “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and Elia Kazan’s 1957 drama “A Face in the Crowd.”
She made a grand return to the screen after her strokes in 1968, winning an Oscar nomination for her performance in “The Subject Was Roses.”
In 1971, she played Olivia Walton in “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” a made-for-TV film that served as the pilot for the CBS series “The Waltons.” It brought her the first of her three Emmy nominations.
“You can’t give up,” she said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “You sure want to, sometimes.”
In 1953, she married Roald Dahl, the British writer famed for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” “James and the Giant Peach” and other tales for children. They had five children. They divorced in 1983 after she learned he was having an affair with her best friend and he died in 1990.
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