Hud movie Oscar winner

Patricia Neal dies: Oscar winning star of 'Hud' was 84

Patricia Neal, 84, an Academy Award-winning actress who masterfully portrayed intensity and vulnerability in her screen roles and became a widely admired symbol of courage after recovering from three strokes at her career peak in the mid-1960s, died Aug. 8 of lung cancer at her home in Edgartown, Mass.

Over a 50-year career, Ms. Neal was a sporadic presence in movies. She starred in fewer than 30. But the high caliber of her dramatic work - especially in "Hud" (1963) and "The Subject Was Roses" (1968) - gave her an enduring reputation for excellence. Washington Post film critic Richard L. Coe once called her "our most undervalued major actress."

She had won a Tony Award at 20 playing the scheming Regina Hubbard in "Another Part of the Forest, " Lillian Hellman's prequel to "The Little Foxes." The role brought her to Hollywood, where the husky-voiced beauty began a tormented relationship with actor Gary Cooper, with whom she starred in two movies (1949's "The Fountainhead" and 1950's "Bright Leaf"). Later she married Roald Dahl, the English writer of macabre fiction and children's classics including "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

Ms. Neal won the Oscar for leading actress in "Hud" as an earthy housekeeper who sexually jousts with Paul Newman's Texas ranch lothario.

She was also compelling in Elia Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd" (1957), as a reporter who shapes the rise and crashing of a TV huckster (Andy Griffith); as a Navy nurse in "In Harm's Way" (1965) with John Wayne; and in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" (1961), as a society matron who pays a handsome writer (George Peppard) for his companionship.

To many, her most stunning accomplishment was "The Subject Was Roses." Her alternately heart-wrenching and scornful portrayal of a disillusioned Bronx housewife and mother prompted film critic Judith Crist to grope "for superlatives to surpass all the superlatives we had applied in the past to the performances of Patricia Neal."

The film was Ms. Neal's long-awaited return to the screen after her strokes. Three years earlier, after her nightly martini and bathing her daughter Lucy, she had strokes that nearly ended her life. She was three months pregnant at the time.

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