A leading lady of American plays and film, Neal studied drama in college and worked as a model before debuting on Broadway in The Voice of the Turtle (1946). Her performance in the play Another Part of the Forest got the attention of Hollywood, and she made her screen debut in the light farce John Loves Mary (1949); that same year she was impressive in The Fountainhead opposite Gary Cooper, whom she later said was the great love of her life. After marrying British writer Roald Dahl in 1953 she disappeared from the screen for several years, returning in 1957's A Face in the Crowd, after which she was more selective in choosing her film roles. For her performance in Hud (1963) she won the Best Actress Oscar. In 1965 she suffered a massive series of strokes that left her confined to a wheelchair, semi-paralyzed and nearly unable to speak; she made a remarkable recovery over several years, returning to the screen in The Subject Was Roses (1968), for which she received another Best Actress Oscar nomination. Also in 1968, she was presented by President Johnson with the "Heart of the Year" Award. Neal underwent two other tragedies in her life: as a baby, one of her children was hit by a cab and underwent eight brain operations, and another died of measles at age 13. Later in life, after divorcing Dahl, she underwent a much-publicized conversion to Christianity and published an autobiography, As I Am. Neal died at age 84 in the summer of 2010.
Biography by Rovi
- Began receiving acting coaching at the age of 12.
- Began her acting career on Broadway, earning a Tony for her performance in Another Part of the Forest (1947).
- Overcame several debilitating strokes in the 1960s and made her comeback in the 1968 film, The Subject Was Roses.
- Acted alongside costar Richard Thomas in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, the 1971 movie pilot for the television series The Waltons; in 1979, played the mother of Thomas' character in All Quiet on the Western Front.