Patricia Neal

Patricia Neal passed away yesterday. I think of her frequently because she was Dominique Francon in The Fountainhead. She was fine, but the film a little campy and the character I find ridiculous, since her view is that any slight capitualation to the heart or to the flesh is enslavement.
Thanks to her, whenever Mr. W. asks when dinner is, I tend to put on my deep breathy voice and proclaim, "Those who eat merely because they are hungry are slaves!"
There's an interesting backstory to that role, which she played opposite Gary Cooper. I assume it was while working on that film that they carried on their famous affair. Here's what a priest friend said of her while presenting her with a pro-life award back in 2003, (as reported by CMR at the link above):

I met Patricia Neal over 20 years ago, and we have become good friends ever since. One time when she was on my television show, I said to her, "Pat, in so many ways you are a female Job." She had, as you know, several strokes which put her in a coma for a month. She had a daughter who died of the measles at the age of seven. She had a son who was hit when he was an infant by a car in New York City, and he remains alive but brain-damaged and will be forever. Another daughter who suffered from drug and alcohol addiction; a husband [Roald Dahl-ed] who was great to her once she had the strokes, but he ultimately left her for a younger woman.

And I said, "In your life, Pat, if there was one thing you could change, what would it be?" And Patricia Neal said, "Father, none of the things you just mentioned." But she said, "Forty years ago I became involved with the actor Gary Cooper, and by him I became pregnant. As he was a married man and I was young in Hollywood and not wanting to ruin my career, we chose to have the baby aborted." She said, "Father, alone in the night for over 40 years, I have cried for my child. And if there is one thing I wish I had the courage to do over in my life, I wish I had the courage to have that baby."

Patricia Neal has put herself on the line in saying to many, many women who have experienced abortion or thought about abortion, "Don't make my mistake. Let your baby live." What's particularly painful, but poignant in this story is that some years later, Patricia became good friends with Maria Cooper, the only child of Gary Cooper and his wife. And Maria Cooper said, "You know, I know you had the affair with my father and I have long ago forgiven that. But one thing I find it hard to accept is that as an only child, I so wish that you'd had my brother or my sister. Because in so many ways, I wish so much that you had chosen life."
 It was Maria Cooper who later befriended Neal and brought her back to her Catholic faith. Incidentally, her strokes came while she was pregnant and left her in a coma for three weeks, followed by partial paralysis and speech impairment, but she had the daughter successfully, and through extensive therapy learned to walk and speak again.
We often hear stories of nice girls corrupted by Hollywood, but rarely of reversions to being nice girls. She won every award: Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Golden Globe, with multiple nominations over the years for all those figurines --and, gosh, she worked with just everybody.

There's a nice tribute to her at her pioneering Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center's site. Apparently she visited there every year right up until the end. And, we're told,
On the eve of her death, Miss Neal told her family, "I've had a lovely time."