An Unquiet Life
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
The internationally acclaimed actress Patricia Neal has been a star on stage, film, and television for nearly sixty years. On Broadway she appeared in such lauded productions as Lillian Hellman's Another Part of the Forest, for which she won the very first Tony Award, and The Miracle Worker. In Hollywood she starred opposite the likes of Ronald Reagan, Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Paul Newman, Fred Astaire, and Tyrone Power in some thirty films. Neal anchored such classic pictures as The Day the Earth Stood Still, A Face in the Crowd, and Breakfast at Tiffany's, but she is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Alma Brown in Hud, which earned her the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1963. But there has been much, much more to Neal's life. She was born Patsy Louise Neal on January 20, 1926, in Packard, Kentucky, though she spent most of her childhood in Knoxville, Tennessee. Neal quickly gained attention for her acting abilities in high school, community, and college performances. Her early stage successes were overshadowed by the unexpected death of her father in 1944. Soon after she left New York for Hollywood in 1947, Neal became romantically involved with Gary Cooper, her married co-star in The Fountainhead, an attachment which brought them both a great deal of notoriety in the press and a great deal of heartache in their personal lives. In 1953, Neal married famed children's author Roald Dahl, a match that would bring her five children and thirty years of dramatic ups and downs. In 1961, their son, Theo, was seriously injured in an automobile accident and required multiple neurosurgeries and years of rehabilitation; the following year their daughter, Olivia, died of measles. At the pinnacle of her screen career, Patricia Neal suffered a series of strokes which left her in a coma for twenty-one days. Variety even ran a headline erroneously stating that she had died. At the time, Neal was pregnant with her and Dahl's fifth child, Lucy, who was born healthy a few months later. After a difficult recovery, Neal returned to film acting, earning a second Academy Award nomination for The Subject Was Roses. She appeared in a number of television movie roles in the 1970s and 1980s and won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Dramatic TV Movie in 1971 for her role in The Homecoming.
Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life is the first critical biography detailing the actress's impressive film career and remarkable personal life. Author Stephen Michael Shearer has conducted numerous interviews with Neal, her professional colleagues, and her intimate friends and was given access to the actress's personal papers. The result is an honest and comprehensive portrait of an accomplished woman who has lived her life with determination and bravado.
""This impressively researched biography of film actress Patricia Neal covers an immensity of material." --(Salt Lake City) Deseret News" --
""Shearer delivers an inspiring look at the professional triumphs and personal tragedies that define one of Hollywood's legendary stars." --Des Moines Regiser" --
""Patricial Neal has traveled the road from tirumph to despair in ways few of us can imagine. There is sincerity and dedication behind this work." --Paul Newman" --
""Screen legend Neal's life was filled with tragedies and triumphs, and Shearer unveils an impressive portrait of the actress.... Readers of As I Am, Neal's 1988 memoir, will seek out this biography for more of the actress's absorbing and inspirational story." --Publishers Weekly" --
""Digs into the amazing first 80 years in the life of one of our national treasures.... Neal is still a great force of nature, and Shearer's book documents all her ups, downs, traumas and triumphs." --Robert Osborne, Hollywood Reporter, Reuters" --
""A tour de force biography." --Louisville Courier-Journal" --
""Her life has had so many tragic twists it makes for compelling reading." --Variety" --
""A solid biography." --Washington Post Book World" --
""Shearer explores Neal's fascinating acting career and personal life, her marriage to children's author Roald Dahl, and her amazing dedication and bravado that has marked her film legacy." --Celebrity Café" --
""A rich record of a life, and of the time and places in which that life was lived." --Toronto Globe and Mail" --
""One can see plainly while reading this book that it was a real labor of love. Anyone interested in movies as well as U.S. social history will treasure this volume about an extraordinary actress and lady." --Bowling Green Daily News" --
""Thorough, engaging look at the life of Patricia Neal."" -- Great Old Movies