Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Patricia Neal

I was saddened today to learn of the death of actress Patricia Neal. In spite of her Academy Award for Hud she always struck me as sadly underused and under-recognized. She didn't have the typical leading lady beauty, although I think she was a gorgeous woman with an outrageously sexy voice. She's one of those actors that I wish had made more movies.

She had a tough life and her career was sadly shortened by a series of strokes. But in every movie she did she left a stamp of quality.

I loved her toughness and the underlying sweetness she seemed to bring to every role. In In Harm's Way she plays a military nurse dealing with personal problems and WWII. And she acts rings around poor John Wayne who plays John Wayne. She's so subtle and quiet in the face of his cowboy persona it's easy to overlook just how little work she's doing (in a good way). She manages to be strong enough that you believe her as a woman of force in a man's world, but you also see the compassion and soft heart. And in almost every role there's this little twinkle that seems to say she knows more than everyone else, but she's not telling.

I admire'd her talent and her courage. Coming back from one stroke is hard enough. She came back from three, learning how to walk and speak again and even pursuing acting roles in the face of setbacks that would have ended most careers. And in everything she did, even crappy guest appearances on Murder She Wrote she was shining.

Thank you, Ms. Neal, for your graciousness and talent. You will be missed.


Duke said...

Here's another personality I would have sworn died years ago. I was very surprised to learn she was still alive and made it to 84.

I always thought of her as a solid actress but without the glamour of the period. Because she was never marketed as a screen siren her roles ended up being more character driven. That was good in a way but also bad in she saw less talented women take roles she might have played.

While she was making low budget fare like The Day the Earth Stood Still, Kim Hunter (a less talented actress with a glamour image) was making A Streetcar Named Desire. Sad.

Sorry to see you go Ms. Neal. We enjoyed your work!

Kittie Howard said...

You articulated what so many felt. I remember when she had her first stroke and how sad everyone was, how happy everyone was when she made a comeback (unusual for an actress during that era)...what a terrific woman and actress...and, did anyone ever accuse the Duke of being able to act?? :)))