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Claire LaZebnik Remembers A Visit from Patricia Neal

posted by Nell Minow

Claire LaZebnik wrote a beautiful piece in the Wall Street Journal about a visit from the late Oscar-winning actress Patricia Neal.  The first movie I ever reviewed — for my high school paper — was Neal’s comeback film, “The Subject Was Roses” (with a very young Martin Sheen as her son).  Neal was at the top of her profession, starring with Gary Cooper and Paul Newman, happily married to author Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach), and pregnant with their child when she suddenly suffered a severe stroke.  Her recovery is a testament to her determination and Dahl’s.

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LaZebnik writes about finding out that her home was where Neal and Dahl were staying in 1965 when she had the stroke.  Neal visited them there.

She looked more like a grandmother than a movie star, but the voice was as husky and gorgeous as ever. And those eyes. They were large and luminous and expressive. You could drown in those eyes….She was funny, wicked, charming, spellbinding. Every one of us fell in love with her that day. We didn’t want her to leave and we begged her to come back. She promised to return soon for a night of parlor and board games, which she said she loved.

But she became ill with cancer soon after and was not able to return.  Many thanks to her for sharing this lovely story.

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