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Patricia Neal (1926-2010)


  1. Lauren Bacall, Bright Leaf, 1949. During her three year love affair with Gary Cooper, Neal ached to co-star with him in this romance. Head Brother Jack Warner refused to test her and it became the final film of Bacall’s contract. After five years (since To Have and Have Not), she was free…!
  2. Adele Jergens,  Sugarfoot (aka Swirl To Glory), 1950.  In  January 1950, The Hollywood Reporter insisted Neal had won the female lead opposite Randolph Scott.  Apparently, no one told Jergens.  
  3. Jean Peters, Anne of the Indies, 1951.   Peters was an11thalmost12th hour choice by Hollywood’s resident realisateur Jacques Tourneur (a director son of a director father) after checking the tests of Neal and the Italian Valentina Cortese for the petulant buccaneer Captain Anne Providence.
  4. Lizabeth Scott, Bad For Each Other, 1952.  At Paramount, producer Hal Wallis wanted Neal and Burt Lancaster for Horace McCoy’s novel, Scalpel.   At Columbia, producer Jerry Wald was delighted with Scott and Charlton Heston. Not so, the public. They Shoot Horses Don’t They? was more the real McCoy.
  5. Elizabeth Taylor,  Giant, 1955.
  6. Elizabeth Taylor, Suddenly Last Summer, 1959.   Impresed by her glorious West End stage performance,  producer Sam Spiegel bought the play for Pat to film.  For a full  year,  she  met various would-be directors until reading in a paper that Liz would make the movie!
  7. Anne  Bancroft, Seven Women, 1965.    Pat suffered three massive strokes after her first day's work,  February  l7, 1965,  Variety reported her dead. Instead, she had a cerebral haemorrhage, suffering semi-paralysis, blurred vision, severely impaired speech.  "Mentally, I was two" - and pregnant. Three years later, with the aid of constant physical therapy from writer-husband Ronald Dahl and friends, she  was back (despite memory lapses) in The Subject Was Roses... and an Oscar nomination.
  8. Eleonore Hirt, What's New Pussycat?, 1965.    "Darling Peter Sellers," recovering from his own brush with death, promised Pat there'd be something for her in his next film. "A cameo part - it was not right for me although I was grateful."
  9. Elizabeth Taylor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966.       Among Jack Warner’s early choices for the blousey Martha. Neal was in good company: Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Mercedes McCambridge (a stage Martha) Rosalind Russell. It all became the fourth of the Burtons’ eleven movies, winning Liz $1.1m and her second Best Actress Oscar.

  10. Anne Bancroft, The Graduate, 1967
    Bancroft had already replaced Neal after her multiple strokes during Johnn Ford’s 7 Women in 1965.   Broadway and Hollywood director Mike Nichols, "the man I had advised not to go into the business,"  was the first to try and get Pat back to work.        "I'm not sure I can remember lines and I still have a limp." Nichols replied: "Herbert Marshall had a wooden leg and no one ever noticed it." And, indeed, she came back a year later in The Subject Was Roses.. Nichols  ploughed on through Doris Day, Ava Gardner, Judy Garland, Susan Hayward, Rita Hayworth, Geraldine Page, Eva Maria Saint, Lana Turner, Shelley Winters. And the prerequisite outsider: Grayson Hall,  of the 1966-1972 supernatural soap, Dark Shadows.

  11. Kim Hunter, Planet of the Apes, 1967.
  12. Sandy Dennis, The Fox, 1967.    Original scripter Howard Koch had her in mind - opposite Vivien Leigh. But director Mark Rydell had promised Sandy a film role during their days in the New York Neighborhood Playhouse.
  13. Eva Marie Saint, The Stalking Moon, 1968.     Finally over her 1965 series of near fatal strokes, Neal was offered a comeback vehicle. Moon or Roses… She wanted both and went for The Subject Was Roses. Good choice. And a welcome back Oscar nomination. (Her veteran co-star, Jack Albertson, won).
  14. Michael Learned, The Waltons, TV, 1971-1981.      Health problems made it impossible for Neal to continue playing Ma Walton after the Yuletide ’71 pilot: The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.











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