“Everything I wanted I fought for–but I didn’t always get it, now let’s not forget that.”
So says Patricia Neal to BBC interviewer Sue Lawley, and then she laughs that famous Patricia Neal laugh, that expansive laugh that always seemed to burst from her heart and fill any room she was in.
What a long and storied life. Patsy Neal from Tennessee, oscar winning actress, wife, mother, lover, author and raconteur. She was one of a kind, truly.
This morning while making my breakfast I ran across this podcast with her from the BBC from 1988. The premise of the Desert Island Discs is that the guest is to be sent to a desert island alone. He or she is allowed to bring one record, one book and one luxury item. How fascinating to hear what Ms Neal would’ve taken with her to a life of solitude. How poignant to hear her at this point in her life, after the years of incredible work, through the love affairs, the marriage and the children, she is alone. And she is laughing.
Am I supposed to feel ashamed of myself?–Patricia Neal
Click the link below and let Patricia herself, tell you about her life and her work, the tragedies and the delights.
Ms. Neal traveled many times to Alaska for the Last Frontier Theatre Conference. She loved to be around young theatre artists. She always had an encouraging word. She bolstered our courage, fed the flame of creativity within each of us. She was dear to us. She wanted to know what we were up to.
I always think the task of any great artist is not only to make art that stands the test of time, it’s also her task to remain relevant. Ms. Neal showed us that. We theatre babies were agog. She was always swarmed with admirers and true friends. She was a light we were drawn to. Still, to this day, there are those among us who attend the yearly Gala Dinner at the conference who can still hear her voice ringing out in the room, that laugh like a bright bell calling us to joy. She died in 2010. Her absence is still strange.
Before I go, I will confess I only met her one time. I shook her hand, told her my name and then sat on the couch across from her and proceeded to make myself absolutely invisible because I am a complete and utter ninny and was completely star-struck before this legend. I was invisible, but I was not deaf and I listened and eavesdropped on this woman, one of the most down-to-earth souls despite her years in Hollywood, tell us babies that you can never give up.
So, we don’t.
Thank you, Ms. Neal for visiting me this Sunday morning.