Two local services to honor Patricia Neal

Memorials for actress Tuesday at Fort Sanders

Actress Patricia Neal

Photo by Mark Humphrey

Actress Patricia Neal

Actress Patricia Neal

Photo by Mark Humphrey

Actress Patricia Neal

Memorial services are being held in three locations for Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal, who grew up in Knoxville and who died of lung cancer Sunday morning at her Martha's Vineyard, Mass., summer home.

Two services are being held Tuesday in Knoxville at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, which the actress called "my hospital" because of her close affiliation with the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center named in her honor.

Patients, hospital officials and admirers of Neal, 84, have praised her remarkable courage and perseverance in her own struggle to come back after disabling strokes. She'd been an inspiration to patients being treated at the Knoxville center for stroke and spinal injuries.

Knoxvillians are being invited to attend either the noon or the 4 p.m. service, each expected to last 30 minutes.

The noon service is being held in Classrooms l and 2 at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, located in the lobby past the gift shop. The 4 p.m. service will be held in the classroom on 5E in the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center.

Dr. Mary Dillon, medical director of the center, and Ginny Morrow, Fort Sanders Foundation president, will be attending a Wednesday service at the Federated Church in Egartown, Martha's Vineyard.

A private service in celebration of Patricia Neal's life and the burial will be held later in the week at the Abbey of Regina Ludis, the Benedictine Cloistered Nunnery in Connecticut, where she often spent time in her little house that was a place of personal peace and contentment.

Neal's career was long - and continued decades after she suffered the severe strokes.

In 1947, at the first Tony Awards, Neal won the award for Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for "Another Part of the Forest."

On only her second film, "The Fountainhead," she was partnered with screen icon Gary Cooper. By the 1960s, she'd begun to play older, more worldly women such as George Peppard's lover in "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

It was as Alma, the cynical housekeeper who keeps Paul Newman at bay in "Hud," that she was nominated for and won her only Academy Award, as Best Actress. She was nominated again in the film that marked her comeback from her strokes, 1968's "The Subject Was Roses." But by the 1970s, Neal started working primarily on television and ultimately was nominated for three Emmys. She originated the role of Olivia Walton in the TV movie that launched "The Waltons."

Her last significant appearance was a brief one as the title character in Robert Altman's 1999 "Cookie's Fortune."

Betsy Pickle contributed to this report. Barbara Aston-Wash is a freelance contributor to the News Sentinel.

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