Patricia Neal is without a doubt one of the most admired women of the American Theatre. At Northwestern University she studied speech and drama, joined summer theatre in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania, and at summer's end headed for New York City. Neal's first job was as understudy for the two main female parts of Voice of the Turtle. She played the role of Regina in Another Part of the Forest, for which she received the Tony Award and the Drama Critics' Award for best Actress.
In 1946, Neal signed with Warner Brothers and made 13 movies in four years, among them are John Loves Mary and The Hasty Heart with Ronald Reagan, The Fountainhead and Bright Leaf with Gary Cooper, Diplomatic Courier with Tyrone Power, and Operation Pacific with John Wayne.
But tragedy was to strike. Neal and Roald Dahl's infant son, Theo, was struck by a taxi in his pram and suffered severe injuries. This was followed by their eldest daughter, Olivia, contracting measles encephalitis and dying at the age of seven. Resolving to go on with life, Neal continued acting. She made In Harm's Way with John Wayne and won an Oscar for Best Actress in 1964 for her performance with Paul Newman in Hud.
When working with director John Ford on MGM's Seven Women, tragedy was to strike again. Neal, three month's pregnant, suffered a series of strokes, which left her partially paralyzed, and began a successful struggle through years of rehabilitation. A symbol of hope and new life, a fifth child, Lucy, was born healthy—truly a miracle child. Neal received an Academy Award nomination for The Subject Was Roses. Television roles included The Homecoming, The Lou Gehrig Story, and All's Quiet on the Western Front, which garnered three Emmy nominations. She appeared in the Emmy-winning Hallmark Hall of Fame's production of Caroline and made guest appearances on Little House on the Prairie, Murder She Wrote, and Heidi for Disney Cable television. One of her recent theatrical films is An Unremarkable Life co-starring Shelley Winters.
Stage performances include Another Part of the Forest, for which she received the Tony Award and the Drama Critics' Award for Best New Actress, The Children's Hour, A Roomful of Roses, Suddenly Last Summer, and The Miracle Worker.
In 1978, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center dedicated the Patricia Neal Rehabiliation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Neal has been tireless in her commitment to developing the Center into the finest rehabilitation facility in the Southern Appalachian Region. She has become a champion in the rehabilitation field and a worldwide symbol of hope and victory to stroke victims and others with disabilities. Today, Neal continues her acting career, in addition to traveling and lecturing extensively. She is a regular participant in the Theatre Guild's Theatre-At-Sea programs, which have taken her to many exotic ports-of-call. Her autobiography, As I Am, was published in 1988 by Simon & Schuster. In 1998, Neal completed the critically acclaimed film Cookie's Fortune, directed by Robert Altman.