Patricia Neal's Tragic Life Ends at 84

Beloved actress overcame crippling strokes, tragic losses
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2010 6:33 AM CDT
29th December 1970: British writer Roald Dahl with wife American actress Patricia Neal.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Patricia Neal, the Academy Award-winning actress who persevered through a life of numerous personal tragedies, died yesterday at the age of 84. Neal arrived on Broadway as a young talent in the 1940s, only to languish in a series of lackluster films and a doomed affair with actor Gary Cooper. After marrying writer Roald Dahl she began to rebuild her career but faced two tragic losses: her infant son was brain damaged when his stroller was hit by a taxi, and her daughter died of measles, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Neal won the Best Actress Oscar for the 1963 movie Hud, then suffered three debilitating strokes that left her paralyzed and unable to speak. After a near total recovery from her injuries through grueling physical therapy, she was able to return to film—but then, in 1984, Dahl left her for another woman she'd accepted as a friend. "I'm going to start living my life again," she told an interviewer at the time. "Its time for good things to happen to me, don't you agree?"

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