Monday, August 9, 2010

In Memoriam: Patricia Neal 1926-2010

Actress. The Day the Earth Stood Still ("Klaatu barada nikto!") , A Face in the Crowd, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Hud, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.

"A tall slim girl with a throaty voice."

--Chicago Tribune, 1949

"I just act my best. That's all I do, wherever I am."

"I think I was born stubborn, that's all"

--Patricia Neal

(In 1965, Neal survived three strokes in a single night--KJ)


  1. What about The Fountainhead? She was so fabulous in that. What a life! She certainly paid a price for that husky voice - dying of lung cancer.

  2. @Kass--You're absolutely right, Kass, she was fabulous in The Fountainhead, which, if I'm not mistaken, was her first movie. I didn't want anyone to think I was promoting the philosophy of Ayn Rand, which is why I left that particular film out.

    I think Patricia Neal was born with that husky voice.

    However, her father was a coal miner...

  3. the subject was roses, hud. she did less than 30 movies, brilliant in all of them.
    and she did "the subject was roses" after her strokes.

  4. I once played a game of Chinese Whispers - as part of some college class, can't remember what it was all about now - and I was the one who got to do the first whisper. My choice? "Klaatu barada nikto!"

    Interesting couple of might-have-beens when it comes to Patricia Neal: she was offered the part of 'Mrs Robinson' in The Graduate but turned it down due to ill health and she played the role of 'Ma Walton' in the pilot but wasn't offered the role, again due to ill health.

  5. @Kass--I said The Fountainhead was Patricia Neal's first movie. I was wrong; it was her second. I just looked up the first and it was John Loves Mary, where she played opposite Ronald Reagan(!!!!!!)

    @standing--I'm ashamed to admit I've never seen The Subject Was Roses (almost as ashamed as I am to admit I've never seen John Loves Mary) but noted film critic Roger Ebert has. Here's what he had to say: "Miss Neal, who knows the movies, is better suited to the medium. She holds back, she suggests more than she reveals, and when all three actors [Martin Sheen, Jack Albertson, Neal] are on camera her performance makes the other two look embarrassingly theatrical."

    Of the movies I've seen, my favorite performance of hers was as the housekeeper in Hud. Loved that Texas accent.

    Jim--Welcome to the blog, Jim. Although I've seen The Day the Earth Stood Still several times, I can never remember the exact order of Ms. Neal's famous line. Obviously, I looked it up for this post, but if I had to guess, I might have said something like, "Nikto klaatu barada!"

    Patricia Neal and Anne Bancroft did kind of resemble each other in the 1960s. Fascinating What If?

    It's been years, actually decades, since I've seen The Homecoming but I seem to remember the Olivia Walton character being more central to that story than she was in the subsequent series. It was really about her and John-Boy holding the family together in the father's absence. You don't see Pa Walton until the very end of the film (hence the title "The Homecoming")


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