Patricia Neal, a Tony- and Oscar-winning actress who embarked on a remarkable career comeback after suffering three strokes at age 39 that left her in a coma for three weeks, died on Sunday at her home in Edgartown, Mass., according to the New York Times. She was 84. Neal emerged in her early 20s on Broadway, winning a Tony for her debut in Lillian Hellman’s Another Part of the Forest before moving to Hollywood.
She is best known for her Oscar-winning turn in 1963’s Hud, playing the rare woman able to resist the adulterous appeals of Paul Newman’s callous title character. After suffering three strokes in 1965, she learned to walk and talk again and returned to work despite an impaired memory. She earned another Oscar nomination for 1968’s The Subject Was Roses. Other notable roles include the 1951 sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still, Elia Kazan’s 1957 drama A Face in the Crowd, 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and the original Broadway production of The Miracle Worker (as Helen Keller’s mother).
Neal’s personal life was often as dramatic as anything she did onscreen. At 23, she embarked on a three-year affair with Gary Cooper, her costar in The Fountainhead, who ultimately decided to stay with his wife and daughter. She then wed the British children’s book author Roald Dahl, resulting in a difficult 30-year marriage that produced five children and more than its share of tragedy. Their oldest, Olivia, died of measles at age 7, and son Theo suffered major brain damage at four months when his baby carriage was crushed between a taxi and bus in New York City.