Patricia Neal


  1. Hedy Lamarr, Samson and Delilah, 1948.   
    Cinemperor Cecil B DeMille’s 1935 plan been Henry Wilcoxon with Joan Crawford, Larraine Day, Dolores Del Rio, Paulette Goddard, Jane Greer or Miriam Hopkins….  Next in line, producer David O Selznick envisaged Kirk Douglas and Marlene Dietrich… By ’48, CB got serious.  He sought a mix of Vivien Leigh, Jean Simmons and “a generous touch of Lana Turner”  from among … Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell, Rhonda Fleming (the Queen of Babylon, 1954), Ava Gardner, Greer Garson (Mrs Miniver!!), Susan Hayward  (1951’s Bathsheba), Rita Hayworth (the future Salome), , Jennifer Jones (St Bernadette in 1943), Patricia Neal, Maureen O’Hara, Nancy Olson (too demure), Jean Peters, Ruth Roman, Gail Russell, Ann Sheridan, Gene Tierney… even such surprises as comical Lucille Ball (!) and song ‘n’ dancer  Betty Hutton.  Plus the Dominican Maria Montez (perfect!), Italian Alida Valli and two Swedes: Viveca Lindfors and Marta Toren.  But CB had already fancied Lamarr for his unmade epic about the Jewish queen Esther (played by Joan Collins in 1960).  Here’s a Samson review signed Groucho Marx: “No picture can hold my interest where the leading man’s bust is larger than the leading lady’s!”

  2. 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…!

  3. 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.  
  4. Celeste Holm, All About Eve, 1950.
  5. Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday, 1952.   Frank Capra (and George Stevens) wanted Liz Taylor, William Wyler liked Suzanne Cloutier (the future Mrs Peter Ustinov) for the runaway Princess Ann.   A further 28 actresses were seen, the good, bad and risible – like the current sex-bombs Yvonne De Carlo Diana Dors, Gina Lollobrigida, Sylvan Mangano, Shelley Winters.  Apart from, perhaps, Vanessa Brown, Mona Freeman and Wanda Hendrix (even though  her real name as Dixie), the Hollywood hopefuls  – singer Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt), Jeanne Crain, Nina Foch, Janet Leigh, Joan Leslie, June Lockhart, Dorothy Malone, Patricia Neal, Barbara Rush – were soon discarded, lacking the stature of Euro-royalty. Idem for the Euros – Swedish Bibi Andersson, and the French Capucine, Leslie Caron, JeanneMoreau. Which left several perfect Brits Claire Bloom, Joan Collins, Glynis Johns, Kay Kendall, Deborah Kerr, Angela Lansbury, Moira Shearer, and, of course, Audrey, … soon gracing the Time cover, hailed by the New York Times as a “slender, elfin and wistful beauty, alternately regal and childlike” with, added Variety, a “delightful affectation in voice and delivery, controlled just enough to have charm and serve as a trademark,”(And, Indeed, it did for evermore).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Janice Rule, Rogue’s March, 1952. Change of Jane Wensley, leading  lady of Peter Lawford’s final MGM movie, at a time when  the Metro box-oiffice had sunik to its lowest  for 20 years. And so Metro  dumped: Lionel Barrymore, Clark Gable, Greer Garson, Esther Williams and an old Lawford flame, June Alyson.
  9. Yvonne De Carlo, The Ten Commandments, 1954.  
  10. Elizabeth Taylor,  Giant, 1955.

  11. 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!
  12. Angela Lansbury, Harlow, 1964.    Joan Fontaine, Rita Hayworth, Patricia Neal and Shelley Winters – they all fled from playing Jean Harlow’s Mama Jean Bello in one of the trashiest Hollywood biopix ever made.  The only true elements in this one were the names of Harlow, her second husband, her mother, stepfather and agent (who’d helped write the Irving Schulman book). The rest was 250% bullshit. Marilyn Monroe threw up when reading a  previously rotten Fox version. “I hope they don’t do that  to me  after I’ve  gone.”   They  did. With equally dumb tele-movie caricatures to equal those of the not one but eventually two Harlow horrors.Ginger Rogers’ final role  was as the mother (refused by Judy Garand) in the rjval production – no better. This was the second of New York producer Joseph E Levine’s three snitty/snotty movies about Hollywood – The Carpetbaggers, 1963, and  The Oscar, 1965. Each one was worse than its predecessor.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.”
  15. Elizabeth Taylor, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? 1966.    Before Queen Liz made it her personal best performance (more so than Suddenly Las Summer??), the earlier choices for Martha were Ingrid Bergman, Bette Davis, Patricia Neal, Rosalind Russell…  and Katharine Hepburn, who told the playwright Edward Albee: “This play is much better than I am.” When directors John Frankenheimer and Fred Zinneman fell out and Broadway king Mike Nichols made it his first film.  Liz approved him. Of course, she did. He and the Burtons had the same agent:  Robbie Lantz.
  16. Anne Bancroft, The Graduate, 1967
  17. Kim Hunter, Planet of the Apes, 1967.
  18. 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.
  19. 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).
  20. 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.











 Birth year: 1926Death year: 2010Other name: Casting Calls:  20